NORTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - It was graduation day for more than 30 new Miami-Dade Corrections officers, and they weren’t the only ones celebrating a major accomplishment.

On Thursday, the last day of Black History Month, women’s history took center stage as Miami-Dade County’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation welcomed 33 new officers to its ranks. Twenty-three of them are women.

Training class number 144 took the oath during their graduation ceremony at Miami Dade College’s North Campus.

For this class, the commencement ceremony represents the completion of over 960 hours of rigorous training, spanning over the past five and a half months.

“We have endured a lot as as a class, and to be at the finish line means a lot,” said Miami-Dade Corrections Officer Katonya Johnson. “It’s rewarding, it’s been challenging, but overall, we’ve accomplished what we came here to accomplish and to get the badge.”

These women were ready to walk into the role with open minds and hearts.

“You don’t have to be tough and strong, put on a different persona, because that’s what gives us that edge being in law enforcement,” said Miami-Dade Corrections Cpl. Kimberly Stout. “We’re able to reach people, you know, especially when it comes to our population.”

Miami-Dade Corrections is made up of 2,016 sworn officers. Fifty-five percent of those officers are women.

“Black women in law enforcement is big. I remember I came to the department 15 years ago, and I saw so many Black women in rank,” said Miami-Dade Corrections Officer Tempriss Warren, “and when I say rank, I mean from corporals to assistant director to chiefs, so it was a very big moment.”

This graduating class is also the very first under the leadership of the agency’s newly sworn director, Sherea Green. She is one of the many women of color in leadership roles in Miami-Dade Corrections.

“I wanted them to know that they one day can walk in these shoes,” she said, “because I remember when I sat in that very seat when I graduated here, many years ago, and the warden at the time shared with me that I could stand in her seat, and now I understand the importance of that.”

These new female officers from all walks of life, many with diverse career backgrounds, various levels of education, are starting this new chapter, turning the page together with a common goal.

And beyond the grind of the daily job, their impact is also felt at home, as their families watch with pride.

Like Johnson, a mom of two daughters.

“I teach them to do what’s right, and whatever you do, do it with confidence, do it with pride, do it with integrity,” she said.

As the nation is set to honor the contributions of women over the next month, these women are making history in Miami-Dade.

“Because we’re nurturing, just by nature, so stay true to self, push yourself, work hard, and the sky’s the limit,” said Stout.

As Miami-Dade Corrections continues to grow, the agency has seven scheduled classes remaining this year.

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