Tuesday, December 6, 2022

For Bexar County Deputy James Kirkendoll, earning a master’s has been ‘the hardest thing I’ve ever done’

For Bexar County Deputy James Kirkendoll, earning a master’s has been ‘the hardest thing I’ve ever done’

CLASS OF 2022

DECEMBER 6, 2022 — For nearly six years, Bexar County Deputy James Kirkendoll has put in upwards of 60 hours a week on the job—including breaking up fights between rival gangs at the Bexar County Jail and saving lives, during life threatening events.  

Among his accolades, Kirkendoll was named Detention Officer of the Month in January 2018, and would go on to be named Detention Officer of the Year that same year. He earned the Detention Officer of the Month award again in April 2019. He is also a two-time recipient of the Life Saving Award, in December 2018 and February 2019. The award recognizes lifesaving efforts of Bexar County deputies. In Kirkendoll’s case, both honors were for cutting down/rescuing and performing CPR on two inmates who tried to commit suicide by self-strangulation.

None of this work, however, compares to the challenge of earning a master’s degree.

“This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” he said.


“If you put in the work, the results are going to be outstanding.”



Next week, Kirkendoll will cross the stage with his master’s degree in criminology and criminal justice—proof that, as he put it, “nothing is impossible.”

“If you put in the work, the results are going to be outstanding,” he said.

The caveat: Be willing to give up some things, like sleep. Between 60-plus hours on the job and a caseload of between 24 and 36 hours each semester, Kirkendoll spent much of his down time studying.

“I’m pulling out my books any time I can squeeze in,” he said.

The work has been worth it for Kirkendoll, who is currently a corporal in the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office. A master’s degree will give the UTSA grad a competitive advantage in the job market.

A program within the UTSA College for Health, Community and Policy, the master of science degree in criminology and criminal justice prepares students for opportunities in such areas as policy planning and agency management. 

With his master’s Kirkendoll hopes to become a patrol officer—a role that would put him in another impactful, positive role within the community, while also providing him the opportunity to be on the management side of the department.

More important than career mobility is the opportunity a master’s degree gives Kirkendoll to show his kids the rewards that stem from hard work and determination.

“I want them to see me as a role model,” Kirkendoll said.

Kirkendoll didn’t get that from his own dad, with whom he’s had little contact.

“The last time I saw him, we just fought,” he said, “and that was at a funeral.”

He did, however, have a role model in his mom, who moved Kirkendoll and his sister from New Mexico to San Antonio about 20 years ago to put distance between them and the part of the family that, as Kirkendoll put it, “was on the wrong side of the law.

In addition to raising two kids on her own, Kirkendoll’s mother went to school and became a registered nurse.

“Mom did a good job raising us,” Kirkendoll said. “She saved us.”

So, too, has Kirkendoll.

Now it’s Kirkendoll’s turn to do the same for his children—son Jaxson, 5; daughter Juliana, 3; and one on the way.

“I want them to see me as the dad I personally never had,” Kirkendoll said. “I’m taking everything that I have and putting it into my work as a father.”

Kirkendoll is quick to add, however, that this latest milestone would not be possible without the support of his wife Breana, “She has been my biggest cheerleader.”

Come December 13, all three—well, three and a half—will be cheering as Kirkendoll walks the stage.

As for how he plans to celebrate, Kirkendoll’s request is a modest one: “I plan to take a nap.”

That nap, however, may have to wait.

In the middle of his interview, Kirkendoll gets some news from his wife: “I’m having a girl.”

Tricia Lynn Silva



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of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

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