Criminal Justice alumnus set up for success – from a college internship
Criminal Justice alumnus set up for success – from a college internship

April 21, 2021 — While attending community college, Brandon Ramirez felt a little lost. His plans to become a musician and travel were suddenly looking like they might be a bit out of reach, and he hadn’t thought hard about a different career path.

Brandon RamirezBut then he found UTSA, and began taking classes that piqued his interest. “I took a few criminology and criminal justice classes, and I thought it was really interesting,” Ramirez said. “It was school work, but it was keeping me focused and interested.”

When Ramirez took a Probation and Parole class, his path became a bit clearer. “I really enjoyed the way theory and the practical side of working in the field were brought into the classroom, and I think that’s what ultimately led me to choose community corrections,” said Ramirez.

Ramirez’s professor suggested that he intern with U.S. pre-trial services in San Antonio in order to get a bird’s-eye view of what federal community corrections looks like, knowing that jumping into federal corrections right out of college might be a stretch.

“I had never heard of pre-trial services,” Ramirez said, “but I was able to get a three month internship there.” Ramirez would go several times a week and work with officers in the field, observing interactions with other federal agencies and with judges.

“I realized what a unique position it was,” Ramirez said. “You’re in a helping position, but you’re also, in federal court, giving information to a judge to make a really big decision on whether someone should be detained or released.”

After graduating, Ramirez spent about four years working with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. During this time, he continued to build his specializations, learning about electric monitoring cases. Because of this skill building, more doors were opened for Ramirez to apply to federal positions.

Now, Ramirez is a Supervisory U.S. Pretrial Services Officer for the Middle District of Florida. He has been with the department for nine years.

“Coming to Florida has been a great experience, because it has been an environment for me to just grow and continue to learn,” Ramirez said. “I’m very fortunate for UTSA for my internship. I really do owe a debt of gratitude to UTSA for that experience.”

While the work isn’t always easy, Ramirez says it is very rewarding. “There can be a lot of stressors involved in this line of work,” he said. “You may not see the difference that you make in the life of one person, but if you’re dedicated, and trying to make a difference in at least one person’s life, that is the ultimate goal of what we do.”

“Hard work and dedication can really take you somewhere where you never thought you would end up.”

It may be easy to assume that Ramirez had things figured out from the moment he started his internship, but it was not that easy. Like many students, Ramirez was juggling a lot at home and in school and it was sometimes difficult to make it all work.

“Having come from a single-parent home, and living in a multi-generational house on the south side of San Antonio… there are a lot of things that I’ve overcome,” Ramirez said. “And I think that gives me a different perspective. In the line of work that I’m in, we see people all the time that may say ‘my upbringing was bad, and I didn’t have a dad.’ I didn’t either, but you have a choice. You can choose to do something differently and make something out of your life.”

Ramirez encourages anyone pursuing criminal justice to keep an open mind, be open about the type of work desired, and to pursue any and all internships possible. “I still maintain relationships with people from my first internship,” he said. “Those folks encouraged me to stay on the path I was on, even if I wanted to quit some days.”

As Ramirez reflects on his path and his experiences at UTSA, he sees clearly how a few seemingly small decisions can add up to a huge impact. “It was the encouragement I received from the folks at UTSA and my internship that allowed me to accept this job in Florida,” he said.

He recalled his first day on the job, feeling the first-day jitters of walking into a big courtroom in a brand new city to get sworn in – but knowing people were in his corner made it easier. “There’s that big eagle over the bench, and there’s the chief judge of the district about to swear me in,” he said. “At that moment, I took it all in. There’s a lasting impact there in that moment, really seeing how the hard work that I put in, not only in school, but in my professional life, and how hard work and dedication can really take you somewhere where you never thought you would end up.”

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