For Southeast Missouri State University senior Jennifer Rubin, graduating from the Law Enforcement Academy is an achievement over 10 years in the making.
“It feels very surreal to be graduating,” she said. “It has been a goal of mine for a long time now, and I’m thrilled to finally be entering the line of work that I care so deeply about.”
Rubin of Chesterfield, Missouri, a communication studies major with a minor in criminal justice, accomplished her goal during the Academy’s graduation ceremony Dec. 15. She’ll graduate from the University in May 2018.
Rubin’s interest in law enforcement began when she was 10 years old. She participated in a D.A.R.E. program and loved it. When she learned of the dangers associated with being a police officer, she wanted to give back.
At 12 years old, she started Rockin’ 4 Relief, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that raises money for families of fallen police officers, firefighters, EMTs and paramedics killed in the line of duty.
At her first Rockin’4 Relief fundraising event, she rocked in a rocking chair for 10 hours to collect donations. She raised $750, disappointed that she did not met her $1,000 goal. Not discouraged, she continued the yearly effort. In 2012, Oprah Winfrey heard about Rockin’ 4 Relief through Twitter. She donated $12,000 to match what Rubin had raised and added an additional $1,000 for a $25,000 goal.
With funds from her Rockin’ 4 Relief non-profit, Jennifer Rubin (center) presents a check to The BackStoppers Inc. at this year’s Guns ‘N Hoses fundraiser in St. Louis with (from left to right) Cpl. Austin Reed, of the Jackson Police Department, Evelyn Aceves, Southeast Law Enforcement Academy candidate, Lt. Adam Glueck, of the Cape Girardeau Police Department, and David Stokes, a Guns ‘N Hoses representative.
When she was 15 years old, she joined the Police Explorers, a group that introduces teenagers and young adults to experiences in law enforcement careers.
“I joined with the mindset that if I’m running a nonprofit for police officers, I might as well learn as much as I can about what they do,” she said.
After her first ride along with a police officer, she was hooked.
“I remember coming home and telling my parents, ‘This is what I want to do for the rest of my life,’” she said.
Coming to Southeast has allowed her to pursue her academic and professional goals.
Along the way she’s also been able to gain valuable experiences, including two years as a student employee at the Academy, and an internship with the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) in Alexandria, Virginia.
In addition to her academic commitments, Rubin also expanded Rockin’ 4 Relief events. The organization now holds two events a year in locations from Sikeston to St. Charles, Missouri. She now recruits volunteers for rocking while she handles the event planning.
She is excited to work in law enforcement because it gives her the opportunity to build relationships in the community, Rubin said.
“I think the part that excites me the most is getting to interact with different aspects of the community and educate people on what police officers do,” she said. “I look forward to building relationships and making sure they know that if they need help, we will be there for them.”
Dr. Carl Kinnison, director of Southeast’s Law Enforcement Academy, congratulates Jennifer Rubin during the Academy’s graduation ceremony.
Her time at Southeast and the Academy has prepared her for those real-world experiences, and given her opportunities to push herself, she said.
“The Academy instructors have supported me and motivated me since the moment I met them, and they have truly shown me the type of police officer and the type of person I want to become,” she said. “I feel like I worked even harder because I didn’t want to disappoint them. They’ve helped me through a lot, both professionally and personally, and words can’t describe how thankful I am for their guidance.”
She is looking forward to working different types of cases and discovering her strengths.
“I trust that once I enter the career, my heart will guide me to what I’m passionate about and what I’m good at so I can help the community as effectively as possible,” she said. “I would love to eventually come back to the academy as a defensive tactics instructor and help future police officers learn what it takes to survive on the streets when they are forced into a physical encounter.”