Posted on June 6, 2021 by Amanda Cerreto

This article originally appeared in by Candice Avila-Garcia . It features MS in Criminology & Criminal Justice alumna Jennifer Rodriguez.

Jennifer Rodriguez You may see her standing by San Antonio Police Chief William McManus during televised press conferences or giving sound to local reporters. But SAPD spokeswoman Jennifer Rodriguez wears many hats — she’s a mom, a wife and most recently a grad student.

San Antonio viewers might recall Rodriguez during her time as a news reporter for KABB. She used her maiden name Saucedo on-air. During her time at the FOX affiliate she covered the court beat, often times covering high-profile cases, which makes sense as to why she pursued a Master’s in criminology. But, I’ll let her explain that later in this article.

I had the privilege of working with her at KABB. Based on her work ethic, it’s no surprise she is an accomplished mother and wife.

Rodriguez chats with MySA and to give an inside look into her life — police calls and all.

This interview has not been edited for length and clarity.

MySA: Tell me about morning routine with your daughter and husband.

JR: Our mornings start very early since we both work full time and my daughter attends middle school in person. My husband is really good about packing our daughter's lunch and I take her to school. It's really important for me to take my daughter to school and have that special time jamming out to BTS or Metallica or just talking about life. Since our lives are very busy and hectic throughout the work week, we always make sure to have breakfast at home on Sundays. My husband is an amazing cook!

MySA: Describe your work day - what does a typical day look like?

JR: One thing I absolutely love about my job is that no day is the same. Before making my way to the office, I like to read overnight incidents because they unfortunately may occur at any given time of the day and night. Once I make my way into the office, I work alongside the PIO team to respond to media inquiries from local and national news outlets. While juggling the incoming requests, I also must monitor the police scanners for anything breaking that may occur from a shooting call to an officer-involved incident.

Jennifer Rodriguez Additionally, alongside my team, I help manage SAPD's social media accounts. One passion I continued from my "one-man-band" days as a former reporter is producing and editing videos for SAPD. The videos, that are posted on our YouTube Channel and Facebook page, include Officer Spotlight videos and Unit videos. Some of my favorite videos include covering the SAPD S.W.A.T. tryouts and a feature video where two SAPD Officers who helped save a young girl that nearly drowned at a pool party.

In March, I also featured female officers from a cadet, all the way to a Deputy Chief for National Women's History Month. I am very passionate about representing this department and showing the public through our social media and news outlets that our officers are truly amazing and passionately serve the Alamo City.

MySA: Are you ever able to ‘unplug' or is being a PIO for SAPD 24/7?

JR: Being a spokeswoman for SAPD is a truly a 24/7 job. At a moment's notice, we can hear a shooting or stabbing on the radio or receive word that there's been an officer-involved incident. When anything breaking occurs, our team works together to get into action from responding to national media inquiries, staging media at a critical incident scene, to responding to active crime scenes such as mass shootings or officer-involved shootings. As part of my job, I'm also on call a handful of times a month. I'm woken up at all hours of the night and occasionally, I respond to critical incidents in the middle of the night.

I vividly remember one call out where I responded to a drowning call where a young child had passed away. I recall getting in my car after briefing the media and just hurting for the child's parents. Although responding to difficult calls is part of my job, I've learned that it's OK to be human and hurt for the families involved. As a mother, responding to calls involving children is extremely difficult but it's part of my calling to comfort those families and hurt for them. It's made me stronger throughout my years as a TV reporter and now as a bilingual spokeswoman for SAPD. I'm very blessed to have a great support system from my daughter and husband at home, to my incredible co-workers, whom I can always count on. We consistently work to build each other up and support each other while covering these difficult calls at any given day and time.

MySA: How did your life change with the pandemic and having you daughter at home?

Jennifer Rodriguez JR: I remember my daughter being on Spring Break and learning about how everything was going remote due to the pandemic. We really had to adjust and become discipline to studying and working from home, but as a family we really grew close and learned to truly value life. It was so heartbreaking seeing the news everyday of people losing their loved ones.

Although it was difficult and challenging to adjust to, we made it work and thankfully we stayed safe and healthy. My heart goes out to those who have lost a loved one due to COVID. Through the pandemic, I learned that it's okay to not be okay. It's okay to feel sad and frustrated, but it's important to speak up and get a good support system behind you.

MySA: Tell me how it was while you were going to get your masters, working full-time and being a mom.

JR: At a very young age my parents, who both have a 9th grade education, always instilled in my brothers and I to pursue higher education. While working as the PIO for the Bexar County District Attorney's Office, I decided to apply to UTSA to pursue my Master's degree in Criminology. I've always had a passion for criminal justice and policing, so it was extremely fulfilling checking this off my bucket list. Throughout my two years of completing my graduate degree, I missed a lot of holiday and birthday dinners to concentrate on my studies, but my husband and daughter were a huge support system for me. My daughter and I spent many weekends at the UTSA library studying and I often stayed up late at night or woke up super early to complete my readings and papers. When everyone was sleeping, I was knocking out my assignments and, in the morning, I had to go to work and complete my shift.

Once I left work, I would pick up my daughter and head home to be a wife and mother before hitting the books again. Although it was challenging at times, I am extremely grateful that I was able to succeed and show my daughter that anything is possible with drive and passion. I'm still passionate about school and would love to go back one day and pursue a law degree or a Ph.D in Criminal Justice. I want all the moms out there to know that anything is possible from going back to school to accomplishing a dream you may have. Just believe in yourself and never ever give up. If you get discouraged, always remember why you started and keep on dreaming!

MySA: How do you decompress at the end of the day?

Jennifer Rodriguez JR: One thing I love to do at the end of the day is grab my phone and watch TikTok videos. I absolutely love watching exercise and inspirational videos. This year, I started training to apply to the SAPD Academy. It has always been my dream to become a law enforcement officer and serve this incredible community. In addition to participating in weekly workouts at the Training Academy, my daughter and I love exercising outside and visiting local parks. She keeps me accountable when I feel exhausted after a long day at work and she consistently pushes me to be better.

With responding to difficult calls and the daily demands of work, it's important for my mental health to be able to decompress at the end of the day. Exercising and training has quickly become part of my daily life and it's a great way to unwind after a productive day at work.

MySA: What do you love the most about being a mom?

JR: Being a mother is a part of my identity and I honestly cannot imagine my life without my daughter. I became a mom a few months after receiving my undergrad degree from Texas State University and nine months after my first TV reporting job in West Texas, so I grew professionally with my daughter right by my side.

I remember juggling news stories and mom life as best as I could throughout the years. Just like my parents continuously pushed my brothers and I to pursue higher education, my hope is that my daughter goes even further than I did and becomes a successful career woman and mom. I also love the bond my daughter Idaly and I have. We are extremely close, and I am so proud at the smart and talented young lady she has become.

— Amanda Cerreto