• Tracy Gaderrama

    “When I was a senior in high school, I remember my parents accompanying me to the local police department. I recall being told, in not so many words, that it was very difficult for woman to get hired. Luckily, that didn’t stop  me!”

    Tracy has been teaching criminal justice classes at Kaplan University since 2007. She has been with the San Diego Police Department for 21 years and currently serves as a detective. “Kaplan University really helps its students looking to enter the law enforcement field by hiring professionals like me who are currently working in the field. This brings the ‘real life’ perspective to the classroom and introduces the students to the realities of
    the job.”

    Tracy has been in law enforcement since 1994, and when she was hired she went through the San Diego Police Academy for 7 months. She was then sent into the field for another four months of training. “After that,” she said, “you are on your own!”

    Tracy has worked Patrol and Neighborhood Policing, where she serves the community by identifying concerns and problem solving. The community contributes to and participates in this partnership. This assignment included patrolling on bicycle to be more accessible, visible, and approachable by the citizens.

    She was promoted to detective in 2000, where her various assignments have included Domestic Violence and Sex Crimes (with an expertise in developmentally delayed victims). She has spent the last 10 years in the Homicide Unit, including 2 years on the Cold Case Team.

    “My family inspired me to go into law enforcement, as they instilled in me a desire to serve others,” Tracy said. “I grew up in a military family and my mother was a nurse, so I saw firsthand how helping others and our country was rewarding and something we all should strive to do.”

    What has inspired Tracy to stay in her career and at the police department for so long? “Again, I would say it is family. However, this time it is the families of the deceased victims that I come into contact with in the Homicide Unit. Seeking justice for their loss and speaking for their loved ones is what inspires me now.”

    Tracy says that she chose to work at Kaplan University because of the values she sees within the college. “Kaplan University truly cares about the students and their success. It’s always such a pleasure being a part of
    seeing students meet their goals, be it working in the field as a forensic specialist or as a law enforcement officer.”

    Tracy continues, “Some of the most rewarding moments for me both in my law enforcement and teaching careers are those moments that I don’t remember! There have been countless times when I received an email from an officer, a student, or a family member expressing their feelings about a contact that I have had with them in the past. Oftentimes, those contacts can be chalked up to part of the job. It is then that I realize what a positive impact each of us can have on others. It is such a great wake up call to treat others professionally and with compassion and encouragement, as you never know what your words might mean to someone.”

    Regarding any advice for students looking to enter the field of criminal justice: “I really think it is important for students to be honest with themselves about the field they are entering. It is not TV and everything is not like CSI! You will be exposed to challenges and to the dark side of people. However, you will also meet some of the most amazing people that otherwise you might not have met. Be honest with yourself so you can better serve your community. It doesn’t matter your ethnicity, your gender, your size, or where you came from. If you obtain a great education and have a passion for the field, you can do it. It’s the heart that truly matters.”


    Back to Center for Public Service Stories Spotlight

Request Information

  • (optional)
  • Step 1 of 2

Center for Public Service


  • Transfer Credit
  • Paying For School
  • Kaplan Commitment