BRIDGETON, N.J. (WPVI) --Shatora Jenkins began her job at the Cumberland County Jail Friday. But unlike most corrections officers, her presence is a part of a story of sacrifice and inspiration.
"I was in a bad point in my life back then, and I never would have thought I would have been where I was at yesterday," said Jenkins, Cumberland County Corrections Officer.
Jenkins was brought to tears as she spoke to us about her journey to becoming a corrections officer - one that started nine years ago when a retired police officer gave his life to save her.
"It's like I died in 2007, and I had to be re-born another way," said Jenkins.
Carmen DeGregorio died while rescuing Jenkins, whose then-boyfriend Chris Robinson was shoving her in a car trunk at a Wawa. Robinson then ran the former Millville cop over with his car.
DeGregorio never left Jenkins' thoughts.
"He was always in my mind. Always in my dreams when I sleep," said Jenkins.
Jenkins says those thoughts inspired her to enter law enforcement. On Thursday, she graduated from the correction's officer academy, overcoming the odds, says the sergeant who investigated her case and has become her friend.
"So many people out there are victims of violent crime or who have a lost loved one to violent crime, and they don't know what to do, how to cope, how to have closure," said Sgt. Ron Henry, Cumberland County Prosecutor's Office. "Hopefully this is a step in that direction for Shatora."
Jenkins says she wants to make a better life for her three children while carrying on DeGregorio's selfless legacy of public service.
"It's really important to have people care about you in your life," said Jenkins.
"Carmen was a hero. I know he's watching, and I guarantee you he's very proud of her like a lot of us are," said Henry.