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Eric Velazquez Alumnus of the Year

March 07, 2022 - 3 minute read

Eric Velazquez

In mid-career, Eric Velazquez ’99 went from sports and fitness journalism to walking a police beat on the streets of his home city, Murrieta. Recently, Velazquez won the Alumnus of the Year: Distinguished Service award from CUI.

“It was very, very cool,” Velazquez says of earning the prize. “I was very surprised and honored to find out.”

Velazquez entered the police academy at age 38, graduated as class president and won its highest honor, the integrity award. He first served on the City of Orange police force, then took an opening in Murrieta where he recently made the SWAT team. His primary duty is as a patrol officer.

“I find it incredibly motivating to be a cop in the same city I live in,” he says. “Some days you’re dealing with neighbors complaining about barking dogs, and the next day it’s human trafficking. If you have a servant’s heart, this is the place to be.”

Velazquez’s interest in sports journalism bloomed as an intern in CUI’s sports information department. He played Eagles baseball, majored in communications, and started covering high school sports for local papers upon graduating.

He also married Eagles volleyball kill-shooter Wendy Ames ’03, whom he had met while reporting on a game.

Eric Velazquez

After a stint in UC Irvine’s sports information department, Velazquez stepped into the role of media director for the U.S. National Water Polo team at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. Then it was a paid internship with the Anaheim Angels, then more Olympics work in 2004, and then a long stretch at Muscle and Fitness magazine, where he became senior editor. He later worked for other publications in that industry.

“I was very nerdy about fitness,” he says. “I had a passion for that stuff.”

But in his late thirties, Velazquez felt he’d topped out in his journalism career.

“I didn’t see myself doing this another 30 years, so what was I going to do now?” he says. “The only other thing I’d ever wanted to do was law enforcement.”

The idea of changing careers at age 37 seemed “reckless and irresponsible,” he says, but Wendy gave her blessing to look into it, “which meant the world to me,” Velazquez says.

So began his crime-fighting second career.

“For me, it’s incredibly rewarding, as tough as it is to see and hear the things we do on a daily basis,” he says. “It’s rewarding to come home at night and know you made a little bit of a difference.”

Recently, Eric came face-to-face with a CUI acquaintance in a police setting. While teaching an evening citizen’s academy course, Velazquez turned to see CUI past president Kurt Krueger— a student in the class.

Velazquez blurted out, “President Krueger. Eric Velazquez, class of ’99. I had you for English 201.”

The fellow Eagles shared a laugh before the student-turned-journalist-turned-police-officer walked the former president through the evening’s drill.

“I have no idea where my life would be now had I not made that decision to go to Concordia,” Velazquez says. “It was exactly where the Lord wanted me to be.”

As tough as it is to see and hear the things we do on a daily basis, it’s rewarding to come home at night and know you made a little bit of a difference.
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