South Sider James Curry always wanted to be a Chicago police officer, but he didn’t think college was the right path for him.

However, when he saw an ad for the One Year and Out Criminal Justice Program at Olive-Harvey College—a partnership with the Chicago Police Department—he decided to push back against that belief.

“I woke up one day and knew that it was time to make a change, and I wanted to see change in my community,” James said. “Most of the time, the only way to do that is to be the change.”

Through the One Year and Out Program, James earned his associate degree in criminal justice at no cost in just one year. His participation in the program also waived his written entrance exam to the Chicago Police Academy.

James completed the program in November and started his training at the academy as a CPD recruit in December. After finishing training and becoming a police officer, he looks forward to returning to Olive-Harvey to encourage other students to complete their education at City Colleges.

“City Colleges actually wants to see people succeed,” James said. “That’s why when I go off to complete the Chicago Police Academy, I’m going to come back and let people know this is the place to be. If you want a good education and want to prosper in life, this is the place to be.”