In 2009, Katasha Bledsoe graduated from Newman with a degree in criminal justice. Now she’s both a sergeant with the Winfield Police Department and a competitive bodybuilder.
Bledsoe first developed an interest in law enforcement when school resource officers visited her high school.
Bledsoe appreciated the officers’ availability to the students, along with their willingness to share the realities of being a police officer. The officers’ time and attention, combined with Bledsoe’s burgeoning desire to help others, eventually led her to pursue a degree in criminal justice.
For the first two years of her undergraduate studies, Bledsoe attended Pratt Community College. She then transferred to Newman University on a basketball scholarship her junior year.
“I really liked my time at Newman,” Bledsoe said. “The smaller campus was nice for me, and all of the professors were great, challenging and wanted us to think. Looking back on it, that was a really good thing.”
Instruction with an impact
Many of Bledsoe’s criminal justice courses were taught by Jill Fort, Ph.D., the interim vice president for academic affairs, whom Bledsoe describes as a “fantastic professor.”
“I really learned a lot from Jill,” Bledsoe said. “She influenced me to keep going in the direction I was. She was always willing to help back then, and to this day we’ve remained friends and continue to talk.”
A basketball injury during her senior year resulted in Bledsoe putting her dreams of becoming an officer on hold. She took on odd jobs for two years and accepted a position as a correctional facilities officer at the Winfield Correctional Facility.
“I worked there for nine months, but knew that wasn’t what I wanted to do,” she said.
In 2012 Bledsoe submitted her application to the Winfield Police Department and was hired onto the team in January 2013. Six years later she was promoted to sergeant.
“I love my job and I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do,” Bledsoe said.
Every career comes with its challenges, and Bledsoe’s job as a police officer is no exception.
“Society as a whole has changed, and how society looks at law enforcement has changed, too,” she said. “The majority of people still respect us, so we have to keep that in mind. We have bad days but the good are more often than the bad, and that’s what gets me through it — knowing that people still support us.”
Built for more
Before Bledsoe became an officer, her exercise routine consisted of home workouts and some outdoor running but she didn’t spend too much time in the gym.
However, she knew the demands of the job required running at a moment’s notice, being ready and staying strong. She also knew that routine fitness relieves stress, so she decided to try CrossFit and increase her gym time.
“It was pretty hard on my body,” Bledsoe said. “So I just started going to the gym, lifting weights and finding programs on my own to use.”
That’s when she discovered bodybuilding.
What started as a simple conversation with a fellow member of the Winfield Recreation Center resulted in hiring a coach, seeking out competitions and competing as a fitness model.
“In 2017, I did my first competition in Kansas City and came in third,” Bledsoe said. “But I hated that feeling of being in third. So I researched more online and found Johnny Cassalina out of Pennsylvania who coached several people on a team.”
Hundreds of workouts later, Bledsoe took first place at a bodybuilder competition in 2019.
Transformation from the inside out
Being a bodybuilder has not only changed Bledsoe’s physique but also her confidence, which she says has an impact on her performance as an officer.
“Being a female police officer and smaller than your average guy, you should have as many tools as possible within you, and not just your weapons,” she said. “This job can drag you down, but you have other people you need to look out for, too.”
In addition to providing quality safety and service to the public, Bledsoe is also the mother of three daughters. She actively works to be a positive role model for them as well.
“I want to instill in them what’s right and wrong, and I want them to challenge themselves and know they can do something that might seem hard to do,” Bledsoe said.
“That’s another reason why I got into bodybuilding. I want my daughters to know they can rise to challenges if they just put their minds to it.”
Follow Bledsoe’s progress on her Instagram page, where she shares inspiration and motivation for others.
Earn a criminal justice degree
The study of criminal justice at Newman University prepares students to transform society.