February 4, 2020
Story and photo by Joe Vinduska
Sophomore Toni Reese of Hoisington is no stranger to adversity. She was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) at the age of 13. She is the daughter of a single mother who was in the Navy through much of her childhood. However, she hasn’t let any of that get in the way of following her dream of becoming a private investigator.
“I was diagnosed when I was 13 and had two shots in my stomach every week until I was 18. Now I just have to take one pill a day,” she said. “I have always wanted people to treat me the same as anyone else, so that was hard for me growing up.”
Her mother’s military career was also a difficult thing to navigate as a child. Reese said she kept herself busy playing with friends and would email back and forth every week and video often chatted with her mother.
“Growing up with a parent in the Navy wasn’t easy,” she said. “My grandma moved in when I was two to take care of me when mom was on deployment. She went on four deployments and went to Afghanistan.”
In 10th grade, she went on a ride-a-long with a police officer who worked at her school, opened her eyes to what she wanted to do with her life.
“It really sparked my interest,” she said. “Since I started taking classes at Barton, it has increased my interest. I like seeing how people think and their motives. Barton has been a great experience and faculty have helped any way they can. I have had mainly online classes this year, but I really enjoy coming to class and interacting with the students as well.”
Her RA is somewhat limiting, so private investigation has been something she’s focused on since it is less physically demanding than other criminal justice career paths.
“It’s a little harder for me to move around, especially in colder weather,” she said. “I can’t have a really physically intense job, but I can still get into the action with private investigation. I’ve also thought about finding a way to do social work as well to help kids in poor circumstances.”
Reese will graduate this spring and plans to possibly go into dispatch while she works towards her bachelor’s degree.
Visit criminaljustice.bartonccc.edu for more information on the Criminal Justice program.
This feature is part of Barton's celebration of Career Technical Education (CTE) Month throughout February.