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Nine Graduate from NMJC Correctional Officers Program

Nine Graduate from NMJC Correctional Officers Program photo 5/20/2017 10:52:41 a.m. - Hobbs, NM.  

[Story by Dorothy Fowler, Hobbs News-Sun]

The 68th class of correctional professionals at New Mexico Junior College featured nine graduates Friday afternoon.

The new officers marched into the theater room of the Western Heritage and Cowboy Hall of Fame Museum to receive pins and certificates marking them as professional corrections officers who can work in any correctional facility in New Mexico.

Their bearing was that of military professionals and their uniforms were perfectly starched and creased. They sat through the program with both hands resting on their thighs, listening intently to remarks made by director of the program Naomi Phillips and class leader, Derek Woodland.

Woodland, who was chosen as class leader by his classmates, delivered a short address to the class and to the audience.

“Leadership does not begin with generals or majors. It does not depend on rank. True leadership is the ability to inspire others to do what is right and to do what must be done,” Woodland said.

Woodland also listed characteristics that make for success as people work with convicted felons.

“Among those things are trust, helping each other, and respecting each other,” he said. “Individuals may win games. Teams win championships.”

The graduates received individual certificates and participated in a pinning ceremony. A member of each cadet’s family was invited to pin a badge onto the left hand side of the candidate’s shirt and that person frequently lingered a moment after the pin was securely fastened to give the cadet a hug. Woodland’s wife, Mina, pinned her husband, hugged him and returned to her seat. After the ceremony, she said she is accustomed to ironing uniforms to precision requirements.

“After 24 years in the Navy, I am used to getting the uniform right and to seeing him off to work every day,” Mina said. “This will be like that.”

Woodland said, “After I retired, I wanted to keep serving the people. And becoming a corrections officer was a way to do that.”

Kimber Williams, one of the two women in the class, said the 10-week, 400-hour training class was rigorous.

“The academics were really hard,” Williams said. “We studied correctional law and criminal justice. But the hardest part was getting sprayed with pepper spray. You have to be sprayed with it in order to lawfully carry it.”

Kimber’s father, Joel Williams said he has no qualms about his daughter’s career choice.

“Her mom was a 23-year veteran of the police department. She was a patrol officer and a detective. I thinking what Kimber is doing is great,” Joel said. After the pinning ceremony, the cadets stood to take their oath of office, swearing to uphold the Constitution of the United States and of the state of New Mexico and to do their best to complete the tasks assigned to them.

The other graduates are Francisco Alvarez, Obed Castaneda, Alberto Escareno, Nathaniel Garcia, Cecilia Miramontes, Manuel Vega and Jonathan Warlick.

Dorothy N. Fowler can be reached at 575-391-544 or

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