Tarrant County College students break barriers in many ways. For some, it’s surmounting personal challenges; for others, it’s about overcoming society’s expectations. For this month’s “What’s stopping you?” feature, TCC talks to three women finding success in career fields dominated by men.

Officer Dara Young
Graduate, TCC Police Academy
Colleyville Police Department

TCC: Why did law enforcement interest you?

DY: I’ve always had a desire to help people, in any capacity. While I was working for Child Protective Services, I was drawn to the Law Enforcement aspect, as compared to the civil aspect.

TCC: Were you the only woman in your TCC Police Academy cadet class?

DY: I was one of 10 females in my academy class! It was the most females they had ever had in one class and it was so empowering.

TCC: Have you faced professional challenges related to your gender?

DY: Aside from carrying fellow cadets during physical training, the only challenges I faced as a female cadet were in my own head. I wanted to prove myself to everyone because it is natural for people to doubt females as officers before they would doubt males as officers. I don’t hold that against anyone; I just work harder in hopes of squashing that thought process. Feeling challenged merely because I am a female in law enforcement is not a daily thought I have. I feel challenged more as a rookie.

TCC: Did anyone discourage you from pursuing a career in law enforcement?

DY: I don’t recall anyone outwardly discouraging me, but I have received incessant disbelief. I’ve heard, “But you’re so girly!” I’ve had a woman call dispatch to confirm I was really an officer on a day I was working in street clothes with my badge and gun visibly displayed on my hip. On that same day, I had a man say, “Like a cop cop? Like a real cop? Like, you drive a cop car??” On a traffic stop, a female passenger said, “Are you driving that cop car all by yourself?? You look sixteen!” Whatever their intent, none of it was encouraging and none of it was flattering.

TCC: What would you say to people going through that kind of challenge?

DY: Never give up! Plenty of people will doubt you, especially if it’s something against the norm, but that does not make it impossible! Women in law enforcement are such a crucial piece to the puzzle of progressing our society. Girls and young women should believe they are strong, powerful and capable of anything.

Dara Young attended the TCC Police Academy in fall 2013 as a member of Class 160. She earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Texas at Arlington and is one of five female officers on Colleyville’s 43-officer force.

With more than 60 career technical education programs, TCC enables you to learn more to earn more. Career and technical education. Not Just Genuine… Texas Genuine. tccd.edu/careerpathways

This story is the latest in a series celebrating members of the TCC community who don’t let challenges stop them. Follow these links to read previous features: Salma Alvarez, Celia Mwakutuya, Jessica Caudle, Ken Moak, Melora Werlwas, Kevin Douglas and Marine Creek Collegiate High School students.