Watch CBS News

San Rafael student sees the world, but remembers his roots

Students Rising Above: Nehemias Gramajo
Students Rising Above: Nehemias Gramajo 03:36

SAN RAFAEL -- Police departments all over the country are having a hard time finding new officers, but one Bay Area student is criss-crossing the world while preparing for a career in law enforcement here at home.  

Nehemias Gramajo has a lot of stamps in his passport. The wall in his room is covered in postcards and mementos from his travels. But he didn't just collect postcards. He also picked up a few languages. 

He is fluent in English, Spanish, German and he'll be focusing on Arabic during his next big adventure, studying at the Universidad de Granada in Spain.

Nehemias is majoring in criminology and criminal justice at Sonoma State and he makes connections with law enforcement in other countries by trading police badges with police officers. He wants to bring that knowledge and experience back home. His goal is to be a police officer in his hometown of San Rafael. 

"As a police officer, I understand that I am not just serving one community," Gramajo said. "I am serving a whole bunch of communities."

He has lived in the same neighborhood his entire life and watched many of his friends join gangs and start using drugs. Many of them ended up in jail. He credits his parents and religion for keeping him out of trouble.

His mother and father came to the United States from Guatemala 30 years ago with nothing but hope for a better life. Now, Nehemias sees himself as the guardian for his community and his family. 

"Just being the best version that I am just shows that they didn't waste the opportunity; that I made a life that they never had," he said.

Maybe the most rewarding journey is the one he'll make back home.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.