In 2002, Brenda attended Wilbur Cross High School in New Haven and received her high school diploma from the New Haven adult education program. After that, she enrolled in the one-year paralegal certificate program at the Branford Hall Career Institute. She graduated from there in 2004.
For five years, Brenda drove a school bus. She describes that job as having a lot of responsibility, but she could also relate well with the students.
Soon, however, Brenda found herself in a difficult and unhealthy relationship involving verbal domestic violence. This brought her some direct exposure to the benefits of police work.
“I always wanted to have a career that can make a difference in people’s lives,” Brenda said. So, she began taking courses at Middlesex Community College as a pathway toward earning a degree in criminal justice.
Brenda soon was hired as an inspector for the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles in the commercial vehicle safety division. However, she was still looking for a career where she could help people more directly.
Since the Connecticut DMV is also considered part of the state’s protective services, Brenda applied to the Police Academy (POST) in Meriden. This involved passing a multitude of exams—agility, written, psychological, and polygraph tests as well as an oral interview and a medical exam. She lived at the facility for six months while her mother, who is originally from Puerto Rico, cared for her son. Brenda graduated from the Connecticut Police Academy in 2015 and went on to serve the DMV for four years handling truck inspections and motor vehicle stops throughout the state. (See CT DMV video Brenda appeared in.)
With sights on finishing a criminal justice degree, Brenda continued taking classes part-time at MxCC. “The teachers are great and very helpful. I really like Middlesex,” Brenda said. “I especially liked my English 101 professor, who was easy to understand and explained things well.”
She later went on to become a full-time municipal police officer and in May 2019, she completed a lateral transfer to a position with the Branford Department of Police Service. The department publicly welcomed her with a post on their social media platforms.
“I love the people in Branford. Everyone is very nice and welcoming, and they respect law enforcement,” she said.
As of the Fall 2019, Brenda has three more courses left to take at Middlesex and plans to graduate with an associate degree in May 2020. She is looking to attend the University of New Haven and eventually complete a four-year degree in criminal justice.
“I see things as a single mom. Pursue your goals and don’t give up,” she said. “Stay determined and focused and keep trying even when it’s gets hard.”