Hayward Scholar trades career in finance for hometown police badge

HAYWARD (KPIX 5) — Many Students Rising Above scholarship recipients find themselves in jobs they never expected. Victor Arellano thought he would work in finance until he saw a need in his own hometown. Now he’s a policeman in Hayward.

A typical busy day for Constable Arellano includes traffic stops, property theft investigations and missing person reports. All of these tasks fill up his patrol time and roster.

But it’s connecting with the community that Arellano sees as his most important role.

“Finding a way to support people…being a peace officer was one of the easiest ways I could see to actually support people on the ground,” Arellano said. “And the people I grew up with.”

The people he grew up with who knew him simply as Victor, a kid from Hayward’s hometown whose immigrant parents came to the United States from Mexico in search of the bright future their children would possibly have.

When we first met Arellano, he was a senior at the University of Pennsylvania, intern at a management consulting firm and considering a career in finance.

“I do consulting,” he told KPIX 5 in 2018. “I’d like to branch out and see where I fit best, and if I don’t like it, well, there’s a tons of other options.”

There were life-changing options Arellano never considered, like his first job after college as a social worker in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District. The experience sharpened his compassion for others as he watched neighborhood residents struggle with addiction.

“Just outside our office, we were located on 6th and Mission,” he recalls. “It was not uncommon to see people shooting outside, people living on the streets setting up tents. And it’s there for everyone to see.”

Not everyone may see the struggle, but Arellano’s vision changed his life. His dream of a future in the financial world lost its luster and he returned home to Hayward and his new role.

“A lot of these events can be very traumatic growing up…even I was robbed as a kid,” Arellano said of his new role and perspective as a police officer. “When I needed help, I would call the police…I’ve had friends and even family members who grew up with domestic violence, drug addiction…even dead people who are very close to me.

“I consider policing to be a very rewarding job,” he added. “It helps me redeem and help people in distress.”

But its beat is also filled with friends, who will always see Officer Arellano as Victor. Future plans include studying law at her dream school, the University of Pennsylvania. But for now, he’s enjoying being at home in Hayword.

“They’re very proud!” Arellano said of his family and friends. “Obviously they’re worried because it’s a dangerous job, but they know that God is with me and by my side. And I have good partners with me, and if they protect me, I will do the same for me and for them.”