Alumni Spotlight: Claudia Umana
Tuesday, April 13, 2021
Written by: Laura D. Schumacher
Photo: Claudia Umana visits the Amicalola Falls State Park in Dawsonville, GA. Umana is a Patrolman First Class at the Lake Mary Police Department. She does extensive community and volunteer work, including returning to Seminole State College to talk to Adult High School students.
"Approximately seven years ago, my daughter and I walked into an open gym to attend a self-defense class. I immediately recognized one of my previous students leading the program! Claudia, an Adult High School and Center for Public Safety alumna was now a member of the Lake Mary Police Department," said Cheryl Sherlock, professor at the adult high school at Seminole State College of Florida. "Since we have reconnected, she has selflessly offered her time to come and speak with our adult high school students about her journey. Claudia's enthusiasm for excellence shines through whenever she presents her empowering story."
The Alumni Association caught up with Umana to learn what she has been up to since graduating from Seminole State.
Name: Claudia Umana
Title and Company: Patrolman first class at the Lake Mary Police Department
Degrees pursued at Seminole State: From 2004-2009: Adult High School diploma, Florida Law Enforcement Academy, Associate in Arts and Associate in Science in Criminal Justice Technology.
What factors played into you deciding to attend Seminole State College?
After I had my second child, I knew that I wanted to go back to school. My brother-in-law was doing the Adult High School program, and that encouraged me to join him and finish my education. Learning is a lot of fun for me, and I took a law class that made me think that I could go into that field. He was one of the main people who gave me the idea of what I could do. I went on to get my Associate in Arts degree and attend the Law Enforcement Academy at Seminole State.
For continuing my education, the location and what people say about Seminole State is truly what stands out to me. When you ask people where they attended the Law Enforcement Academy, they all say Seminole State.
What were your steps after leaving Seminole State?
I went right into the police academy right after I received my Associate in Arts and the Associate in Science. You have to be a U.S. citizen to be able to attend the academy, and I was finishing the process at the same time I was finishing my associate degrees. Everything fell into place – I was able to get my U.S. citizenship right before the academy started, I put in my paperwork and I was able to get into the academy. By August after we graduated in July, I had an instructor call me. They had heard about me from one of the other instructors and wanted to offer me a position at the Lake Mary Police Department. That same week, the Apopka Police Department offered me a position. Ultimately, I ended up choosing the Lake Mary Police Department and it was the best decision for me and my family.
Who or what class was your greatest influence at Seminole State College?
Cheryl Sherlock was my computer teacher, and she was just like a mom. She was so nice and down to earth, and she really treated us like we were adults while also being so caring like a mother. My English teacher was also great. It really looked like they loved their job and loved what they were doing. It was so great that they took the time to sit down with you, explain things and teach you things. I have a lot of fond memories of the teachers at Seminole State, both at the high school and the College.
Professionally and/or academically, of what are you most proud?
My parents are immigrants. I’m the first in my family to finish high school and go to college. My parents had worked since they were about 12, so schooling or a career was never in their minds. So I’m most proud of where I am now, making it through school and having a profession.Claudia Umana.
My parents are immigrants. I’m the first in my family to finish high school and go to college. My parents had worked since they were about 12, so schooling or a career was never in their minds. So I’m most proud of where I am now, making it through school and having a profession. I’ll be able to retire from something, and that’s not a common thing in my family.
Also, my kids. I have an 18-year-old and a 20-year-old, and we’ll all be in college at the same time. I’ve gone back to school as well, and I’m currently in my last year studying to get a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at the University of Central Florida. I’m so proud that they’ll be the second generation getting college degrees.
Professionally, I am most proud of all the units I have had the pleasure to work in during the last 14 years as a police officer. I was a detective for over six years which was an amazing experience. I taught D.A.R.E. at various schools in Lake Mary. I am a field training officer and get to pass down my knowledge to rookie officers. I am also a crisis hostage negotiator which is very challenging but extremely important.
What advice do you have for current or prospective Seminole State students?
First, you need to make the decision that you want to change your life or do something with your life. That was me. When I had my second child, I knew I wanted something better for myself and my kids. So, the decision was that I had to go back to high school. I couldn’t blame anyone but myself for not doing well.
Once you make that decision and can continue into college, go for it. Don’t wait until you have a family, a full-time job and other activities. If you have the chance to get in right after high school, go for it. You’re not going to regret it.
What do you like to do for fun?
I hang out with my son a lot. He loves cooking, so we’ll make creations in the kitchen together. We also love to travel together, finding adventure and exploring. When I’m off, I really try to stick with my parents and family. The job can be a lot of weight after a while, so it’s great to step out and do something completely different.
What kind of activities do you do in the community?
I’ve been a volunteer and on the board for Safe House of Seminole. That’s been great, and I collect things for women and children in need. It’s wonderful to hear the stories of those that come for the services and where they are able to end up.Claudia Umana.
I volunteer for Lake Mary Church – collecting food and clothing for the shelters. I’ve been a volunteer and on the board for Safe House of Seminole. That’s been great, and I collect things for women and children in need. It’s wonderful to hear the stories of those that come for the services and where they are able to end up. I’m also a volunteer for the American Red Cross. I’m a disaster action team member, so when there’s a major disaster, we get deployed. It’s so cool to meet people with who you think you have nothing in common, but you make a connection through the Red Cross. In 2019, I was on the selection committee for the Hispanic Scholarship Fund. It was wonderful to get to see the alumni and being able to select the new recipients.
What are you doing to help get you through this pandemic? Anything you’d like to share specifically about how you’re feeling during this time?
A lot, honestly, hasn’t changed for me. The biggest thing that changed is wearing a mask everywhere that we go, but everything else really stayed the same. We’re staying busy, and we make it work.
Seminole State College Alumni Association: The Seminole State College Alumni Association provides benefits and services for alumni as they continue their lifelong connection with Seminole State College of Florida, providing opportunities for them to network with one another, interact with the student body and support the College. To learn more, visit the Alumni Association website.About the Center for Public Safety
Seminole State's Center for Public Safety is a statewide educational resource for all aspects of criminal justice, fire science and EMS. In addition to preparing future first responders, the Center for Public Safety provides advanced, specialized and in-service training for current law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMTs and paramedics. The College also offers students an Associate in Science degree in all three disciplines. Visit seminolestate.edu/public-safety for more information.