Building and advancing a career in law enforcement has come steadily for Darnika Mayfield these past few years after some fears were overcome.
“I’d always wanted a college degree but just hadn’t stayed here long enough to get one,” Mayfield said. “I’d come to Hinds before but wasn’t patient enough and didn’t know what I wanted to pursue for my degree, plus I wanted my daughter to graduate first.”
Mayfield, 44, of Vicksburg, grew up in Tchula and graduated from Simmons High School in Hollandale. After her daughter was born, Mayfield worked a variety of jobs including as a school bus monitor and a teacher’s assistant at an alternative school in Vicksburg. She then “stepped out on faith” to try law enforcement, working with the Warren County Sheriff’s Department for four years, mainly in the county jail, and now as a patrol officer with the Mississippi Highway Patrol the past four years.
Once her daughter earned her Hinds degree in nursing in 2019, Mayfield knew it was time to start furthering her own career, which she did in 2021. She’s now on track to graduate in 2023 with an associate degree toward a more advanced credential in criminal justice – which is the key, she says, to a more secure future for her family.
“My first couple of months back here were rough,” she said. “Learning all the new technology with tracking classes was overwhelming, but I kept pushing. I was like, ‘Whoa, I quit. I have a job already. I don’t need to be here.’ But, the teachers here didn’t let me quit. They told me about places like the Writing Center, where I could get help with whatever I needed for my essays in English.”
Her main cheerleader this semester is her criminal justice instructor, Dr. Shannon Anderson.
“Because of her profession, she adds a wealth of insight to various discussions that we have in class,” Anderson said. “She’s proven to be the type of student that instructors would love to always see in their classes – a helpful and compassionate leader.”
Balancing up to six classes per semester the past year and patrolling the state’s highways full-time is no easy task, she said, but her superiors at MHP have supported her at every step.
“It’s been challenging dealing with the pandemic and still focusing on our own families and education,” she said. “As troopers, we make sure everybody’s families get home safe. But, we’ve worked hard and have come together.”
She’s handling the rest of the spring semester one test at a time and wants to stay in Mississippi as her resume’ grows.
“I want that degree under my belt for future promotions and share my experiences with other students,” she said. “I love talking to students about it, especially young ladies. I want to be a positive role model for them.”