UHV student prepares for crime scene work through SAPD internship
Marilyn Medina learns something new every day as an intern for the San Antonio Police Department as she rotates between different divisions to gain a big-picture understanding of law enforcement.
Medina, a University of Houston-Victoria sophomore criminal justice major from San Antonio, views the internship as providing essential experience for her goal of becoming a crime scene investigator.
“It has been a really good experience with the police department, and it’s given me a perspective that not everyone gets to see,” Medina said.
The semester-long internship requires her to invest a total of 140 hours observing the work of officers in different units of the police department. So far, she has spent time with officers who work at various substations around San Antonio and in different units, including crime scene investigations, financial crimes, regular patrol, narcotics, traffic fatalities and more.
“Every day always looks a little different,” she said. “I’ve worked with a number of units already, and I think they’ve all been good learning experiences. It’s all been an eye-opening experience to have the privilege to be a part of this and see everything that goes on.”
She has also developed a greater understanding of community issues and an appreciation for the human side of the police officers she was able to meet and work with.
“It’s the people who make it a lot more interesting every day,” she said.
The interns make the work days of the officers more interesting too, as they get to hear civilian perspectives on different issues, said police Officer Sara Munoz, the recruiter who oversees SAPD’s internship program. SAPD also supports its internship program because it is an investment in the police department’s future force and in these students.
“These internships give students insight into this line of work and if it’s something they want to do,” Munoz said.
An internship with a law enforcement agency is ideal for a student who wants to work in forensics, but internship opportunities are uncommon, said Amy Hatmaker, director of UHV Career Services for whom Medina works part time as a student.
“That’s what’s so exciting, because opportunities like that are rare for students who want to go into law enforcement in other areas instead of as officers,” Hatmaker said. “Marilyn’s goal is to do crime scene work, and internships in that area are difficult to find. So when I saw that job posting come through, I was very excited.”
Hatmaker and Munoz said that to their knowledge, Medina is the first UHV student to do an internship at SAPD.
“This program they created in San Antonio is a really good one. She actually gets to ride along with virtually all the different units and see how things are done in the field, so it’s been great exposure for her,” Hatmaker said.
Medina first became interested in becoming a crime scene investigator when she took classes in forensics and anatomy as well as a law enforcement endorsement throughout high school, where she learned how to do foot castings and make fingerprints. One day, she hopes to join the FBI.
“It’s something I’ve been interested in doing for years, so I felt like I needed that exposure to confirm that this is something I want to continue to pursue,” she said. “And this internship has definitely opened my eyes and helped me realize that this is something that I could see myself doing for the rest of my life.”
The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.
Staci Semrad, Special to UHV