Ever since she was a five-year-old living in Poland and watching American Westerns on television, Ewelina Duda knew she wanted to be a police officer.
“I was a little shy, but I knew I wanted to be the sheriff,” recalled Duda, who took the Chicago Police Department exam last year, got accepted as a police recruit and entered the Chicago Police Academy in August.
She had to interrupt her studies in National Louis University’s Criminal Justice program, but plans to return to get her four-year degree. She hopes it will help her advance in police work.
Duda came to the U.S. from Poland when she was 19 to visit an uncle, then worked as a housekeeper. In 2015, she enrolled at Truman College, got her associate degree, and then transferred to NLU in January of this year. Now age 36, she studied here for three quarters before starting at the police academy.
She studied criminology, ethics, probation, parole and other subjects, and went on field trips to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office and morgue, as well as juvenile court and the Juvenile Detention Center.
“NLU really took a hands-on approach,” she said. “The classes I took are helping me learn at the police academy, because NLU prepared me with a lot of similar information.”
At the police academy, she’s learning about procedures, various kinds of crimes, how to assist victims, Illinois law, Chicago ordinances and respect for authority and for the community the police serve. After finishing the academy in February, she will have on-the-job training with a training officer during a mandatory probationary period.
“You have to learn to look, speak and act professionally,” she said. “If you train your body and brain to do that, you’ll perform that way.”
She also said speaking a foreign language fluently is helpful to the department.
Her two sons, aged 11 and 14, are excited.
“I’m studying at the same time they’re studying,” she said. “They’re happy for me.”