Health and Kinesiology alum named Class Leader and Top Shot in class at Houston Police Department

Life after graduation for Lamar University’s Exercise Science & Fitness Management alum, Brandon Baumgardner ’21, has been filled with plot twists and exciting new adventures while currently working as the Houston Police Department’s (HPD) Patrol Division Officer. During the fourth week of training, Baumgardner was named Class Leader for the Houston Police Academy and received the Top Shot Award given to the cadet who earns the highest score in firearms training. HK Alum

“I was nervous at first when I was named as the Class Leader,” said Baumgardner. “We still had 26 weeks to go, and I was now responsible for leading 70 other cadets to succeed as a class, who were still strangers to me. I was overcoming the culture shock of moving to Houston, Texas from the small town of Nederland, TX. With the HPD being the third largest police department in the United States, things can quickly become intimidating and overwhelming. After a few weeks and with the continued support of my classmates, I found my stride and ran with it.”

As for being the recipient of the Top Shot Award, Baumgardner was in disbelief. “There were a lot of very good shooters in my class. I practiced a lot in my off time, and I feel very blessed that I was able to have something to show for it,” he said.

Baumgardner is a firm believer in leading by example. Leading his peers while simultaneously being a cadet meant most of his job would be through actions, not words. “How could I expect to hold someone accountable if I was not holding myself accountable?” he asked. “I did everything I could to hold myself to the standard I expected of others. I truly believe that living the standard is what it means to be a Police Officer, and being Class Leader showed me exactly what that meant. Receiving the award for Top Shot is a great honor. I love to compete with others and with such steep marksmanship competition in my class, it makes it even more special to me. It also pays homage to my time in the Marine Corps as a Scout Sniper.”

Baumgardner developed many skills as a student at Lamar University that prepared him for his current role. “The police academy is very academically rigorous, so I was able to show up already having a solid basis for learning material and studying. I developed these skills at Lamar University and was blessed to be ranked number 5 academically in my graduating class.”

“Lamar also provided me the opportunity to develop people skills by interacting with other students on campus and during my internship with the Lamar Institute of Technology Regional Police Academy as the Strength and Conditioning Coach,” said Baumgardner. “I learned a lot about various cultures that I did not previously know at Lamar. This worked out well considering Houston is the most diverse city in the nation, even more so than New York City, New York. My job as a patrol officer is to interact with people from all walks of life. Being able to effectively communicate and find common ground with the citizens I serve makes me a better police officer. Lamar University was the foundation for my culturally diverse communication skills.”

Baumgardner would like to recognize Lamar University and Lamar Institute of Technology faculty members for supporting him along his journey. “Mr. Michael Nixon, the Director of the LIT Regional Police Academy, has been my biggest mentor and my friend. I want to thank him for his continuing guidance as well as giving me a chance and the right start,” he said. “Dr. Shannon Jordan, Dr. Daniel Chilek and Dr. Alan Moore of LU’s Health & Kinesiology Department, you three have been amazing professors to me in this field and exemplify the standard of what professors should be. You care for your students and their success while providing curriculum that is above reproach. Mr. Ken Poston, Ms. Sara Gubala, and Dr. P.J. Couch, thank you for never giving up on me and helping me find my potential even during times I felt unmotivated.”

Baumgardner shares his best advice: “Many times, the people we are helping are having the worst day of their life. Do not let them down. We work for the people. We exist to serve others. We are members of our communities. If you are a person like me that is called to serve others, this profession will give you the chance to do it every day.”