Cynthia Vasey is a woman on a mission to succeed; as a mom, as a police officer, and as a member of the greater Racine community.

Vasey, 27, of Racine, is the single mother of four children ages 3 to 13. She is acutely aware of how quickly people can form an opinion about her when they learn this lone fact about her life, but there is so much more to Vasey than meets the eye.

An eye firmly on the future

She not only has her high school diploma, she’s also a graduate of Gateway Technical College’s Class of 2016 with a degree in criminal justice and an eye on a career in law enforcement.

Vasey has applications pending with the Racine County Sheriff’s Office and the Racine Police Department, and she’s been selected to move on in the interview/testing process with the Oshkosh Police Department.

“It’s happening,” she said. “Being a police officer is my dream career because you’re there at the lowest point of a person’s life. I’m a naturally positive person, and I want to bring that to our community when our neighbors are having a hard time.”

But, Vasey knows how different her life could have turned out. After her first child was born while she was a young teen, Vasey continued to go to school, but she dropped out when she was 17 and had her second child. After working and not seeing any real way to change her circumstances, Vasey enrolled in GTC’s HSED program, which requires extra classes.

“I’ve always worked two jobs, so that’s never an issue, but that’s not the life I wanted for me and it’s not the life I want for my kids,” she added. “So I went back to school to get an actual high school diploma.”

She also credits the unwavering support of her mother for helping her get through the hard times and appreciate the good times.

“My mother has been 100 percent supportive,” Vasey continued. “She always believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself.”

Vasey’s first career goal was to be a nurse so she enrolled in Gateway and started taking general requirement classes. Her education was interrupted again with the birth of her third child, “because I couldn’t possibly make it harder on myself,” Vasey joked, but she was working as a certified nursing assistant and was still focused on becoming a nurse.

After the birth of her fourth child two years later, though, Vasey realized that nursing wasn’t really where her passion was. She met with her counselor, and, based on her answers to some probing questions, they plotted a chart to a criminal justice degree.

Quitting was never an option.

“The journey is hard, but I look at my kids and I don’t want them ever thinking it’s okay to quit,” she said. “I want my family to be proud of me. I want to be proud of myself, and I refuse to be a statistic.”

Eventually, Vasey said she wants to reach detective rank and return to school for a bachelor’s degree in psychology because not only is she fascinated by how the human brain functions, she think having that insight will help her help more people.

“The why and how of what people do what they do intrigues me, and I think a degree in psychology will help me be a better officer and a better detective,” she said. “It’s like putting together a puzzle that has to be completed quickly and thoroughly to give closure to the families involved, and get dangerous people off the street.”

Giving back

While she was in school and raising her kids, Vasey continued to work two jobs, and she also found the time to host the first Friends-giving in 2014 at Rosie’s on Taylor as well as a Christmas dinner at the Hospitality Center. Both events were organized to help the lonely during holidays that are focused on family.

“No one wants or deserves to be alone on the holidays,” Vasey said in explanation for why she wanted to help others. “I have a lot to be grateful for.”

Additionally, Vasey implemented Taco Thursdays for the hot lunch meal at the Hospitality Center, and a veritable army of volunteers joins her in the kitchen each week to prepare a full-on taco lunch with all the fixings. She doesn’t want any credit for the outreach she spearheaded, but she does want folks to understand how important it is.

“What’s so great about the people who come out to help and eat together is that it’s so diverse; young and older, every race, and men and women,” she said. “Helping people makes me feel whole, and leads to me want to do even more.”

Vasey’s mom, Judy, is clearly proud of her daughter, and supports her efforts to make a difference in the community; she cooked nine turkeys for the 2015 Friends-giving.

“She is the kindest and strongest woman I know,” Judy said. “I look up to her.”