South Texas College has announced the graduation of a local police chief.

San Juan Police Chief Juan Gonzalez earned his bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership in December.

According to a news release, Gonzalez returned to college more than 30 years after becoming a peace officer to help support his family, a decision which was inspired by his daughter’s own college graduation in 2017.

“The last time I was in college was back in 1988 at Texas Southmost in Brownsville,” Gonzalez said in the news release. “I had been looking into different types of colleges and I was especially looking for something that was conducive for me so I could manage my career and go to school at the same time.”

Gonzalez took advantage of online courses available through STC to help him balance his school work with his professional work.

“It was a perfect match for me with the timing to attend college at STC, and I think it was a very rewarding feeling as well as a great accomplishment and experience being able to accomplish what I wanted to do,” said Gonzalez. “I also thank my wife and daughter for all the support they gave me to balance work and college at the same time.”

Gonzalez’s other accomplishments throughout his professional career include graduating from the FBI National Academy, becoming a master peace officer and a certified public manager, and graduating from the National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA) Command college.

The police chief currently serves as an executive board member for the Texas Police Chiefs Association as well as the Rio Grande Valley Law Enforcement Police Chief’s Coalition. He is also the regional commander for San Juan’s Law Enforcement Emergency Regional Response Team (LEERT).

According to the news release, Gonzalez plans to continue his education and pursue his master’s degree in Business Management from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

“You know I had some apprehension at first because I didn’t even know if it was even going to work for me or not but I think what really helped me was the college staff, from registration to admissions through the testing and curriculum, everybody was just so encouraging and I found that to be very helpful,” Gonzalez said. “At no point did anyone discourage me, rather they encouraged me to take a chance for my education and I followed their guidance.”