Waxahachie Police Cpl. Agapito Borjas never imagined that he would grow up to become a police officer when he graduated from Waxahachie High School in 1998.

Yet 20 years later, that’s exactly what happened.

“All I ever wanted to do was be a Marine,” Borjas expressed. “I don’t think I ever knew anything else but Marine Corps green.”

Borjas was with the Waxahachie Police Department alongside several other law enforcement and first responder agencies in attendance Thursday at the Criminal Justice Career Day at Waxahachie High School, where he spoke to students about working in both the military and law enforcement.

But Borjas wasn’t the only one from the Waxahachie Police family there. WHS Criminal Justice instructor Joe Herrera retired from the Waxahachie Police Department himself in 2014. Herrera explained that he was the only instructor teaching 110 students when the program first began five years ago.

It’s since grown to three instructors with over 340 students.

“It’s been fantastic,” Herrera expressed. “Every year, we see new students. We’re excited about the growth. Every day we’re here, we’re excited about the program.”

Borjas stated that he served in the military for nine years prior to joining the Waxahachie Police force. He initially enlisted in an expeditionary unit that went through Kuwait in one of his first combat tours.

He recalled that he was ready to leave the Marines once he finished his first tour.

“I remember talking to my dad, him asking me ‘So what’re you going to do?’” he recalled. “I’m going to get out. I was ready to get out.”

Then on September 11, 2001, Borjas watched as 19 terrorists hijacked four airplanes and drove them into the twin towers in New York, Pentagon in Washington, DC, and a field in Pennsylvania. He witnessed the Islamic terrorist group Al-Qaeda claim responsibility for the attack, which killed 2,996 people and injured over 6,000 others.

Borjas saw no other choice except to re-enlist in the Marines and serve for another six years.

Whenever he did get out in 2008, Borjas was looking for another career where he could put his combat expertise to good use.

A detective from the Waxahachie Police Department recommended that he trade the Marine uniform for a police badge.

“You can’t beat camaraderie,” Borjas expressed. “I think that was the attraction to the police department – being back in uniform and being part of a family again in that way.”

Borjas returns to his alma mater year after year to speak to students about his experiences transitioning from the military to the police department. He said that what he appreciates most about the criminal justice career day is that it breaks down that barrier of uneasiness that may usually come with interacting with an active duty police officer.

“It breaks down those barriers – not just for me being able to interact with them, but for them to feel comfortable with me,” Borjas expressed. “It’s really neat because, for us, it’s a chance for them to see us in a less formal environment – just kind of letting our hair down. In this environment, I’m more approachable. Let them see we’re people, like their parents, and this is our career.”

Bianca Acevedo is one such WHS senior who has been inspired by Borjas’ story. Having been involved with the criminal justice elective ever since she was a freshman, Acevedo said she wanted to get into law enforcement due to her own experiences growing up in a community that dealt with its own issues regarding crime and drugs.

“I didn’t grow up on a great side of town,” she stated. “I knew negative things, and I knew negative people. I didn’t have luxuries. There were bad things going on.”

She originally wanted to become a narcotics officer straight after graduation. But after listening to Borjas’ story, she decided she wanted to enlist in the military first.

“I think we’re starting to see a turn in the way young people view police officers and the law enforcement field as a whole,” Borjas stated. “There were some shadows that were cast over us for several years now, and I understand why. A lot of things can be very in-your-face with the internet and everything. I think kids are starting to have a greater understanding of the purpose first responders, law enforcement has.”