Taking the criminal justice path: Makaylah (Perkins) Delgado serves as sheriff’s deputy

Jul 14, 2022
Sheriff's Deputy Makaylah (Perkins) Delgado, 2018 Newman University alumna

Makaylah (Perkins) Delgado ‘18 is putting her criminal justice and psychology degrees to use as a sheriff’s deputy for the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office.

Delgado’s graduation from Newman University was immediately followed by work with the Sedgwick County Emergency Communication Center. There she took 911 calls, dispatched police, fire and EMS, and even met her husband, Cameron. She then began working with COMCARE Children’s Services of Sedgwick County, which supports children’s mental health and behavioral needs through community resources.

Driven by her passion to one day work for the FBI, Delgado decided to take the next step and applied for the sheriff’s department.

The road to becoming a sheriff’s deputy

“Sheriff’s deputy training was six months long,” Delgado explained. “Training included classroom learning, learning Kansas laws, going to the shooting range and using scenarios to understand practical applications. We also learned ground fighting techniques to prepare us for if a situation ever reached that point.”

There were 17 students in Delgado’s class for sheriff’s deputy training; one of the largest classes the sheriff’s department had seen in a while, Delgado said.

Makaylah (Perkins) Delgado with husband, Cameron Delgado
Makaylah (Perkins) Delgado with husband, Cameron Delgado

“Since there were a lot of us, that allowed us to interact with different types of people,” Delgado said. “Everyone came from different places, and it was really fun. Some of the classroom stuff can be tedious, but like anything, you gotta learn the basics before you can actually do the rest of it.”

Out of the December 2021 graduating class of sheriff’s deputies, Delgado was class valedictorian — a humbling honor that took her by surprise.

“When you’re in school, a lot of the time you just learn the stuff and you don’t apply it as much,” she said. “Having worked at children’s (COMCARE) and being able to communicate with people that either have mental or learning disabilities helped with talking to people regardless of if they had those handicaps or not, who are in distress. I think having that basis of information allowed me to better apply it.”

Now with nearly four months of experience as a sheriff’s deputy, Delgado’s job continues to keep her on her toes.

“Every day is a little different,” she said. “Sometimes it’s busy, sometimes it’s not. We respond to many calls in any given day, whether it’s people having issues with family, a small town that needs help, traffic violations. … We have to be prepared to drive all the way across the county if it comes to it.”

Prepared to transform society for the better

Kristi Barton Edwards, assistant professor of criminal justice at Newman, said she feels “safe and secure” knowing that Delgado is working as a deputy in Sedgwick County.

“Knowing we have a brilliant, compassionate and critically conscious first responder in our community warms my heart and gives me hope for the future of law enforcement,” Edwards said.

Makaylah (Perkins) Delgado and Kristi Barton Edwards on Newman University commencement day, May 2018.
Makaylah (Perkins) Delgado, left, and Kristi Barton Edwards on Newman University commencement day, May 2018.

Edwards recalls teaching Delgado in several of the criminal justice classes offered at Newman.

“She began her classes without certainty about what she wanted to do with her skills,” Edwards continued. “She took full advantage of our small, personalized and interactive classes (guest speakers and field trips) as well as local law enforcement internship opportunities to find her place within the criminal justice system.”

Being a part of Delgado’s journey has been an honor for Edwards, and “seeing her find her power in criminal justice is inspiring.”

Makaylah’s professional achievement echoes her academic excellence. … She is a testimony to the ability of Newman to empower our students to make the world a safer place.”

Kristi Barton Edwards, assistant professor of criminal justice at Newman

“Can I please have more students take advantage of the criminal justice degree of difference like Makaylah did during her time at Newman? Pretty please?” Edwards joked.

Newman sealed the deal

Before she became a Newman Jet, Delgado traveled to Wichita from her hometown of Coppell, Texas, for a recruitment day hosted by the university. She attended a mock criminal justice class where Edwards was teaching, and the experience immediately solidified Newman University as Delgado’s college of choice.

“The way Kristi taught was very interactive,” Delgado said. “Having her and Jill Fort as my advisers and professors definitely helped me retain information. They made all the students part of the learning experience. The psychology program was similar. I think having the smaller class sizes allowed for a lot more interaction with the professor and other classmates.”

Delgado and fellow classmates embark on a Europe by Rail trip through Newman University.
Delgado and fellow classmates embark on a Europe by Rail trip through Newman University.

Students of the criminal justice program often engaged with guest speakers working in the field. They also visited places like the Wichita County Jail and El Dorado Correctional Facility.

“That definitely helped supplement or bring to light some of the classroom material,” Delgado added.

In addition to her studies, Delgado was also a member of the Justice League — a club for those interested in criminal justice. She was also part of Campus Activities Board and worked for Student Support Services.

“Makaylah is a testimony to the ability of Newman to empower our students to make the world a safer place. Her professional achievement echoes her academic excellence, and I fully expect to attend all her promotion parties in the coming years,” Edwards said with a smile.

(Far right) Delgado and her team of Newman University students won the 2017 Lip Sync Battle.
Delgado, far right, and her team of Newman University students won the 2017 Lip Sync Battle.

A loving support system

With fewer individuals applying for jobs in law enforcement, Delgado said the support she’s received from family and friends is that much more valuable.

“Throughout the process, my husband, Cameron, has helped me study while in class, and I’m grateful for my mom for pushing me forward and not letting me just say, ‘Well, maybe next year.’ She’s really helped light a fire under me to do it.”

Heather Perkins, who works as the administrative assistant to the dean of the School of Arts & Sciences, couldn’t be prouder of her daughter’s journey.

Delgado and her mother, Heather Perkins
Delgado and her mother, Heather Perkins

Perkins remembers her daughter trying karate, gymnastics, soccer, color guard and “a little bit of everything,” growing up. The mother-daughter duo even spent evenings watching T.V. shows like “Crime Scene Investigation” and “Criminal Minds” — a possible foreshadowing of Delgado’s career field.

Although deputy training had its challenges, Perkins knew that “Makaylah is willing to do whatever it takes to go into the field.”

“The class had to be out in the heat for long periods of time and Makaylah wasn’t used to that, but she got through every obstacle and completed it, graduated and is now a sheriff’s deputy,” Perkins said. “She’s a tough cookie and she’s willing to go the extra mile to be what she wants to be.”

Both Delgado’s previous work experience and compassion for others make her exceptionally good at talking to people, Perkins said. She is confident her daughter is entering the challenging field for the right reasons.

“She would rather talk a person down from a tense situation than to shoot at all if she didn’t have to,” she said. “She wants to be one of the good ones.”

“I am just so very proud of her,” Perkins continued tearfully. “I couldn’t have asked for a better daughter. I’ve always known she’s capable of doing anything she sets her mind to and doing it well. I knew she would do something truly important with her life and she has proven that already. However, I believe this is just the beginning of even greater things to come in her journey. She is, by far, not finished yet.”

Advice from the frontline

To current Newman University students interested in pursuing a job in criminal justice, Delgado has a few words of advice.

“Be a sponge,” she said. “Take in everything during your college experience, whether it’s what you’re learning in the classroom or from interactions with other people. Learn how to communicate with other people, be kind to people and don’t be afraid to go for what you wanna do. It took me a couple years to get myself to apply for the Sheriff’s Office, but it’s never too late.”

Delgado added, “If you try something and you don’t enjoy the work you’re doing, it’s never too late to switch. Keep looking for something that fulfills your work dreams and goals.”

Be a sponge. … Learn how to communicate with other people, be kind to people and don’t be afraid to go for what you wanna do.”

Makaylah (Perkins) Delgado

For those interested in learning more about the criminal justice field post-college, contact Delgado by email here.

Earn a criminal justice degree

Field trips, guest speakers and active learning activities are an integral part of the criminal justice program at Newman University, which prepares students to transform society.