Six months after graduating from Eastern Illinois University, Samantha Berry returned to her alma mater to accept the challenge of a quite different role.
Having just completed 10 weeks of training at the Southwestern Illinois Police Academy in Belleville, the 23-year-old Heyworth native began work as an officer with the EIU Police Department. Now she will spend the next 12 weeks in on-the-job training, working with the force’s more experienced officers before patrolling on her own.
“As a recent EIU graduate, Samantha has already established relationships with faculty, staff and students across campus,” said UPD Police Chief Kent Martin. “I have no doubt she will be a very valuable addition to the department and she will serve EIU with pride and integrity.”
Berry, who earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology (with a criminology minor), said she’s known for years that she ultimately wanted to go into law enforcement. She was thrilled to discover an opening so soon after graduation at “a place I fell in love with as a student.”
As the first one in her very supportive family to graduate from college, Berry said her parents were “very proud, yet very nervous” about a career in law enforcement. She, however, was anxious to “get out (on campus), reacting with the people.”
“I think with my recent background as a student here, I can be more proactive, more relatable with the students,” she said. “I’ve been in their shoes.”
Berry is the daughter of Jeff and Judy Berry.