Police Sergeant, Single Mom Graduates with Honors as Gateway’s Best All Around Student

Friday, May 27, 2016

Sergeant Sandra Brooks is the first person in her family to receive a college degree, after a 27 year hiatus, at Gateway Community College’s (GCC) 24th Commencement at Yale’s Woolsey Hall on May 26. 

 Brooks, who is raising two daughters, and working 60 hours a week as a police sergeant, took advantage of a unique initiative by the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) that provided incentive for people with some college credit to Go Back to Get Ahead. From June 2014 to March 2015, the program enrolled more than 1,400 Connecticut residents whose college education was incomplete.

 “I returned to college last semester after a 27 year break from school and I have been a police officer for almost 18 years,” she explains. “It has not been easy coordinating a full time school schedule with my career, at times it was nearly impossible, but I have some great fellow officers who assisted me with shift swaps and coverage in order to allow me to have a near perfect attendance.”

Sergeant Brooks earned her associate degree in Human Services with a 3.97 GPA, and has received the award for academic excellence in her major. She is one of 1071 students who make up the Class of 2016. She was distinguished as the best during Commencement ceremonies when she was surprised with the Best All Around Student Award.

“Sandra is a role model for other students,” says her Social Sciences Professor, Kim Shea. “She is very motivated, displays leadership and demonstrates commitment to her education and to public service.”   

Over the course of her 18-year career, Brooks served as a Detective and Training Sergeant, and also on the Greater New Haven Domestic Violence Task Force, the Child Development Community Policing Program, as liaison to the Guilford Youth and Family Services Board, and as a DARE Instructor. She also spent 12 years volunteering with Special Olympics CT and the Law Enforcement Torch Run.

As a mature student, the challenges of balancing family, work and academics can be daunting, but Brooks was determined to make her studies a priority. “My experience at Gateway enabled me to do well, become a member of Phi Theta Kappa, and remain motivated to be my absolute best,” said Brooks.  “My degree from Gateway and continuing education will definitely help me further my advancement in the highly competitive career world.”

Brooks will take the exam for promotion to Lieutenant next week. “I cannot thank the Go Back to Get Ahead Program, all of my professors and Gateway Community College enough,” she says with a broad smile. “Attending Gateway has been a great experience and I am in awe of GCC’s state of the art, wonderful campus and the dedication of the employees and professors. This degree fulfills a lifelong dream and quite honestly the greatest accomplishment of my life.  Thank you, Gateway!”