Pierce Pioneer

Campus safety officer aspires to do bigger things after graduation

Alyssa Wilkins / Staff Photo

Edgar Velasco uses his college experiences to
prepare him for what he’ll be doing next

Some people watch crime shows for fun. Other people imagine how to solve crimes in their sleep. These people often begin to wonder if these shows depict real experiences for law enforcement.

Such was the case for twenty-year-old criminal justice major and aspiring corrections officer, Edgar Velasco. After graduating with his associate’s degree this spring and transferring to the University of Washington for his Bachelor’s degree, he will get to find out.

Velasco became intrigued by law entertainment platforms because of the debates and cases of diverse backgrounds. He was drawn in by two contrasting reality shows. One portrayed inmates who are aggressive and intimidating, whereas the other, where guards have a great rapport with inmates.

His fascination with discovering the truths behind these stories inspired him to pursue a career in criminal justice. Additionally, he has a great curiosity in how laws are formed and how they affect his community. This interest will serve him well as a police officer – something he can see himself doing in the future.  

He had originally wanted to go to South Puget Sound because he lived in Lacey. However, the college didn’t have a criminal justice program, and that is what brought him to Pierce.

Alyssa Wilkins / Staff Photo

As part of his curriculum studies, he was able to take a tour of a local corrections facility.  Because of that experience, he started looking at being a corrections officer as a stepping stone to becoming a police officer. 

Velasco works as a safety guard at Pierce, which gives him first-hand experience. The position has helped him overcome his concerns about getting his foot through the door in the criminal justice field. He questioned himself to see if he was mentally prepared for this career. However, with the security job, “It’s definitely given me more confidence about the future,” he said.

As a first-generation college student, he also felt a lot of pressure. One quarter before he was scheduled to graduate, Velasco felt the impulse to drop out because he was mentally drowning. However, he overcame the desire and will be graduating this June. He finds pride in doing this for his family. By the time the quarter ended, he found his personal pride has turned into a driven force for himself.

He put leisurely activities on the backburner in order to solely focus on his college and future career. He has put all his time and energy on school and working his security job which will help him pursue his future career path. “I am here for a purpose,” he said. That purpose placed him on the Dean’s list last quarter.

He hopes to make both his parents and grandparents proud while also doing it for himself. Velasco asked himself, “Do you want to have a successful life? That’s what I want, so I keep pushing through.”

Student Spotlight: Jocelyn Hillyer

A great leader takes her final bow

Twenty-four-year-old Pierce College student Jocelyn Hillyer is a humble athlete, a military wife, a mother, a future educator and a decorated Pierce volleyball player. Her drive and ambition has made a definite impact to those around her and added a sense of family to the team.

Taimane Rice / Staff Photo
Jocelyn Hillyer won the AVCA, All-American two-year college award as a first team pick among fifteen other state wide college students.

As a member of the Raider volleyball team, she earned a number of awards last year. Hillyer won most valuable player for the Northwest Athletic Conference West Division. She was also voted player of the week for Under Armour, and the national Amateur Volleyball Coaches Association award.

Hillyer played for Pierce in 2015 before moving to Texas. She had a scholarship for Texas State University, but found the atmosphere and environment was not for her. She returned to Pierce last year.

Women’s volleyball coach Greg Finel was captivated by Hillyer’s skill, heart and passion. “Hillyer is one of the top five, best female athletes to ever play at Pierce. I don’t know if there will ever be another player like Jocelyn in the Northwest Athletic Conference again,” he said.

Hillyer has a soft but noticeable leadership. She does not allow fear or nerves to set in when she plays because she trusts in her ability. “She has added dimension to the team. There is an underlying feeling that you have to play up to this potential, because you know she’s going to do the same thing,” Finel said.

Duncan Stevenson / Contributing Photo
Jocelyn Hillyer was first introduced to Volleyball when her high school coach approached her. She says she was not any good at first, but today she is one of the top 5 female Pierce athletes.

Teammate Kenzie Seitz relied on Hillyer in order to gain momentum. “Every ball she puts down just fueled me to get the next one dug for her to attack again,” Seitz said.

As a high school freshman, Hillyer made varsity, even though she did not play well. As a beginner, she discovered the value of being a humble athlete. “It puts an aspect on who you are to society and what you cannot only bring to your team but to the world,” she said.

The team would take Hillyer’s 2-year-old daughter with them to games like she was their tiny Raider mascot. Hillyer said she felt as though she had a second family with her team because the player’s loved ones watched over her daughter while they cheered.

The family dynamic moved the Raiders to succeed. The team built a stronger connection because they adopted an “I got your back” mentality. “We cared about each other’s lives and got to know each other on a deeper level, which made us a family – not just a team,” Seitz said.

Hillyer will be exchanging her Raider uniform for a Geoduck this fall. Thanks to a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics partial scholarship, she can further her education at Evergreen State College.

She will continue working towards her degree in teaching kindergarten through third grade at Evergreen. Her love of teaching extends from a charming place in her heart. “I didn’t have a good experience growing up with teachers,” she said. “I also came from a minority town, and we didn’t have the resources or teachers that fostered my learning, so I want to be that teacher for children.”

Hillyer took her last bow on Pierce’s court in November; but she will be bringing her determination and influence to Evergreen. “I hope she continues to play for the love and passion of the sport,” Finel said.

Raider Review and Cram ‘n’ Jam to help students prepare for finals

Pierce College’s study resources centers will have extended hours at both the Fort Steilacoom and Puyallup campuses for an ongoing quarterly event where students can study and have fun around finals.

Here at Steilacoom you have returning students and ex-military that are looking for events like this.”

— Connor Fredericks

Students have the chance to relax, play games, and eat food while getting some extra study time. The tutoring, writing center, and the library will be open past regular hours. The Raider Review is today and tomorrow at the Fort Steilacoom campus in the Performance, Fireside and Student Life lounges from 4 to 8 p.m. The Cram ‘n’ Jam is tomorrow in the library at the Puyallup campus from 6 to 10 p.m.

The “cram sessions” were initiated for students to “blow off some steam” and to have more assistance with their finals. It happens at the end of each quarter. Student life Supervisor Annie Morrow brought the event to Fort Steilacoom from the Puyallup campus. “The essence between the two events is the same, but there are some differences in the students attending the events on each campus,” Morrow said.

The Raider Review at Fort Steilacoom has had a better turnout in previous quarters, administrative senator Connor Fredericks said. The difference is the student demographics. “Here at Steilacoom you have returning students and ex-military that are looking for events like this.” The average age at the Puyallup campus is 18 to 24 years old. There’s also about 100 students that constantly attend events like this at the Fort Steilacoom, Fredericks said.

It’s more attractive to do events in the morning because you get more attendance and better numbers,”

— Zakariah Swanson

Puyallup’s Cram ‘n’ Jam is working on building their student participation. They discontinued the event for the past few years because of low student involvement. This year, Student Life and Pierce student leader, Zakariah Swanson began spearheading the revival of the Cram ‘n’ Jam. Last fall they only had eight attendees in the festivities. There were board games which were not popular and was discontinued. For Puyallup, this quarter’s event will set the standard for continuing in the future at their campus.

These events allow night students to participate when they normally do not have the opportunity. “It’s more attractive to do events in the morning because you get more attendance and better numbers,” Swanson said.  “Often times there are very small amounts of events that would be catered toward and convenient for night students, so I’m hoping this is one.”

This is a family-friendly event that also allows you to bring a companion. The amenities are free. At the Cram ‘n’ Jam, there will be a daycare area with toys and movies, so the student’s with children can spend time studying while their kids play. There will also be karaoke for all. Most importantly, assistance with math and biology is available as well as staff from both the writing and tutor centers.

The Raider Review will have video games, ping pong, foosball and miniature bowling. Tutors will come down to the main area to assist students.

Whichever campus students attend, they can be guaranteed a good time, Swanson said. “These events have the option to be fun, educational and useful,” he said. This is a useful combination of support to assist students in their academic success, he added.

*This article was edited on March 19, 2019 to reflect the correct dates of the Raider Review.

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