Virginia Matias was a senior in high school when her uncle Miguel Espinal was shot and killed during an armed robbery at his corner store.
The robber shot Espinal in the abdomen and made off with $900 from his La Dominicana store in East Camden.
The slaying prompted Matias, now 27, to study law and justice at Rowan University with an eye toward becoming a police officer in Camden, to try to prevent similar acts of senseless violence.
This month, Matias graduated from the Camden County police academy, along with 108 others in the largest graduating class to date. Eighty-nine of the officers, including Matias, are now working for the Camden County Police Metro Division. Another class, graduating in April, will bring the force up to 411 officers, county officials said.