Spring 2024 Scholarship Recipient

Esmeralda Alaniz was born in Homestead, Florida, raised by a single parent and as an only child as both of her older siblings had already moved out. She graduated from the Seminole State College Police Academy in the fall of 2023.

Her passion to pursue law enforcement began in elementary school on career day. Local first responders performed and spoke with students about their duties, but it was a female K-9 officer that captured her attention. She proved to Esmeralda anything can be possible even in a profession that is male dominated. “Seeing her train with the German Shepard was an experience I would never forget. From there I set a goal to finish my education and work towards becoming a police officer.”

By the age of thirteen Esmeralda was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune condition that did not have a cure and surgery was the only option to fix the damage done to my body.  A journey through faith helped overcome the struggles of feeling different in a society that is hurtful to individuals who do not look like the rest of them. After graduating from high school, she went to community college for two years. During that time, Esmeralda came out to my mother after a church retreat. “Coming from a catholic family, being part of the LGBTQ+ community was not well received. I knew my attraction to girls started when I was six years old, but not having someone to understand how I felt made me hide my true self until I could not anymore.”

Esmeralda then transferred to the University of Central Florida where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with a minor in psychology. She took a year off from school to work and then finally applied for the police academy at Seminole State College. “This experience has been an eye opener and a calling for a path that will come with challenges that few will be able to conquer and understand why certain things must happen for the greater good. This is not just a job to protect and serve people, but to give a voice to the ones who are seeking guidance and want to change how the community perceives law enforcement. One difference can change the world, but it starts with who is sworn in, not forgetting where they come from and staying humble.”