Student Spotlight: Zelia Hoke

Zelia Hoke
Zelia Hoke

Law Enforcement major looks forward to becoming a county sheriff

When she first came to Inver Hills Community College, Zelia Hoke, 42, enrolled in the Emergency Medical Services program with the goal to become a paramedic.

“I like working with people and I thought EMS would be a good fit for me,” Zelia said, “but my heart was in law enforcement.”

Today, Zelia is a sophomore in the Law Enforcement program at Inver Hills. She is on track to graduate with her Associate of Science (A.S.) degree in spring 2019. She plans to transfer to Metropolitan State University to earn her Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Law Enforcement. From there she would like to earn her master’s degree in criminal justice.

“My ultimate career goal is to become a county sheriff,” Zelia said. “Peace officers in Dakota County are among the most educated in the country.”

More about Zelia…

Originally from Chicago, Illinois, Zelia graduated from Morgan Park High School in 1995. She works while going to school as a manufacturing associate at Federal Cartridge in Anoka. She has worked at Federal for six years and puts in 36 hours per week in three 12-hour shifts.

“I have a very supportive husband,” Zelia said. “His name is Karlos with a K. I have two children who are now adults. My daughter’s name is Sha’Kila. She is twenty years old and a junior at Hamline University. My son’s name is Damien. He is twenty-three and recently returned home from the U.S. Air Force. Last but not least is my baby boy, Gizmo, a Shih Tzu. Gizmo is eleven years old and just loves to love me back!”

In her free time, Zelia enjoys spending time with her family. “Quiet time is everything—being that I get very little of it,” she said. “So when I can, I will sit and let the television watch me….”

Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers

Maintain order and protect lives and property by enforcing laws.

This is a very high-wage career. Well above the statewide median of $20.07/hour


Median: $32.32/hour
High: $37.64/hour

Seven-county Twin Cities metro area

Median: $35.70/hour
High: $39.70/hour


This career is currently in high demand and seeing high growth compared to other careers. Growth rate is 7.5 percent.

There will be a need for about 7,222 new Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers to meet market demand between 2016–2026. This includes the demand due to replacement (workers leaving the occupation or retiring) as well as growth.

Minnesota State CAREERwise Education

Zelia Hoke | Q & A

Zelia Hoke
Zelia Hoke

Why did you choose law enforcement as your career field?
I have always wanted to be a professional in this field. Helping others when they need it the most makes me happy.

What do you like best about the Law Enforcement program?
I have really enjoyed the opportunity to take my classes online. I also like taking theory classes. Those classes are a bit more involved and hands-on.

What is one thing every law enforcement student should know?
Take your time! Miles Kensler, one of my instructors and a criminal investigation officer, is always telling us to slow down. Take your time when you’re filling out a police report. Get the full story.

What is your law enforcement philosophy?
“Policing is more than enforcing the law; it is serving people, being present, solving problems, and helping others. The nature of policing requires those who practice it be highly respectful, compassionate, and collaborative in carrying out their duties.” This quote from David C. Couper embodies everything I believe and feel makes a great police officer.

Three words that describe you as a college student:

What do you consider your toughest challenge in life?
Going after my goals after becoming a wife and mother. I have been with my husband for more than 20 years, married for 12, while raising two very intelligent and beautiful children.

Your greatest accomplishment so far?
So far it has been my family. My relationship with my husband and both of my children.

Your highest goal?
Graduate, then do it again!

Zelia Hoke | 21 Answers


  1. Favorite season: Fall, and spring
  2. fff_denzelFavorite natural feature (e.g., waterfalls, oceans, mountains, etc.): Trees and flowers. I just love the outdoors when everything looks alive.
  3. Favorite sport or physical activity: Bike riding
  4. Your national bird if you could have one: Bald eagle is what I will stick with.
  5. Place you would most like to visit: Africa
  6. Favorite holiday: Thanksgiving
  7. Your national mammal if you could have one: I would have to say dogs. I have a Shih Tzu named Gizmo and he is my baby.
  8. Favorite actor or actress: Denzel Washington—and Will Smith.
  9. Favorite band or performing artist: Erykah Badu
  10. fff_erykahYour personal motto if you had to have one: “Just do it!”
  11. Coolest thing in the world: Becoming a mom, a wife and a professional.
  12. Scariest thing in the world: Spiders and suffocation
  13. Favorite all-time TV show: The Walking Dead
  14. Favorite all-time movie: Alien
  15. One thing you most want to accomplish in life: Seeing my children grow up to be happy, healthy and successful in whatever they are doing in life.
  16. Most valuable material possession: My wedding ring
  17. fff_alienWhat you would do if you won the $1.5 billion Powerball: Adopt a few charities and build homes for persons with mental illnesses, and also have fun, relax and retire.
  18. Dream occupation: County sheriff
  19. Person you would most like to meet: Michelle or Barack Obama
  20. Skill you would most like to learn and master: Martial arts
  21. Humankind’s greatest challenge: Showing respect and love for all.
Learn more about Law Enforcement at Inver Hills by contacting:

Leslie Palmer
Criminal Justice Faculty

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