05 Jan 2023
Meet Rebecca Foley, Winner of the 2022 Scholarship for Emergency Responders and Their Families
Posted By Darrigo & Diaz
Darrigo & Diaz Attorneys at Law is pleased to introduce Rebecca Foley as the 2022 Winner of our Annual Scholarship for Emergency Responders and Their Families.
Since 1999, the personal injury attorneys at Darrigo & Diaz have worked tirelessly to protect the rights of Tampa community members; those who fall victim to serious injuries in auto and trucking accidents, slip and falls, and wrongful death cases. Each day, we see firsthand the phenomenal acts of courage, compassion, and competence exhibited by emergency responders. We are honored to contribute to their educational path and will be awarding an annual $1,000 scholarship to an emergency responder or medical professional student.
Rebecca Foley is a full-time police officer and part-time paramedic who is committed to improving mental health services within her community. She is currently completing her Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from the University of Texas A&M in San Antonio. In the future, she hopes to foster collaboration between law enforcement and mental health providers to better help people in crisis.
Rebecca knew from an early age that she wanted to help others. As a result, her professional journey has been characterized by a calling to serve. Over the last 20 years, she has advanced her career as a first responder.
“I genuinely believe the careers I have chosen picked me. I first became an emergency medical technician in 2000, a police officer in 2006, a firefighter in 2010, and a paramedicine in 2012.”
Yet, a unique distinction to Rebecca’s career is her dedication to education. She obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degree in Criminal Justice at Wayland Baptist University in San Antonio while working as a police officer. It was during her undergraduate and graduate studies that Rebecca realized her passion for mental health.
“My passion for mental health began when I gathered my research papers for my bachelor’s degree and my master’s degree. I realized that: (1) the criminal justice system is broken in mental health care services, and (2) law enforcement requires more training in a mental health crisis.”
Interestingly, approximately 10 percent of police calls involve a person with mental illness, making police officers the nation’s de facto first responders to mental health crises. This is an issue that Rebecca understands. Through her first-hand experience in law enforcement and academic studies, she recognizes the importance of equipping first responders with proper mental health training to make communities healthier and safer.
Not only is Rebecca pursuing her Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, but she has completed several continuing education courses. She has undergone Crisis Intervention Training (CIT), Mental Health Officer (MHO) training, and has attended several Crisis Intervention Conferences in Texas. For her, education, communication and collaboration are how change is made.
“Realistically one person (me) would not be able to correct these issues. However, I do believe that if we continue to support a collaboration between mental health and the criminal justice system, we will be able to see a benefit.”
At the beginning of 2022, Rebecca assisted her police department with creating a mental health collaboration between local mental health facilities and hospitals. More than half of the officers in her department have completed Mental Health Officer training and de-escalation training. As a result, the department has reported a decrease in crises.
“There is much work to be done [within] our law enforcement community. I understand that mental health counselors may work in hospitals, clinics, and private entities. I want to concentrate on assisting the mental health issues in my community and our first responders.”
Rebecca’s goal is to help close the gap between mental health services and crisis services within her department and community. She plans to use her degree to provide counseling and training to officers, as well as gain a part-time position at a local mental health facility. She understands that mental health is a complex issue that requires proper prevention and management training. Mental health matters, and Rebecca is making a difference.
From everyone at Darrigo & Diaz, we want to congratulate Rebecca on her selection as the 2022 recipient of our Annual Scholarship for Emergency Responders and Their Families. We applaud her efforts and commitment to improving mental health services among first responders and within her community. A true advocate and leader, Rebecca inspires us all to be the change we want to see.
Darrigo & Diaz Scholarship for Emergency Responders and Their Families
The Darrigo & Diaz Scholarship for Emergency Responders and Their Families is just a part of our effort to recognize these heroes in our community by providing financial assistance to emergency responders and their family members to further their education and therefore further their career — or take the first step toward a new one.
Learn more about the Darrigo & Diaz scholarship and how to apply here.