Police Sgt. Adam Pina had only completed two courses toward his bachelor’s degree when he suffered a life-threatening accident that ended his career and nearly derailed his education.
Instead, Pina graduated this December with a degree in organizational leadership. The Catherine T. MacArthur School of Leadership faculty chose Pina as Outstanding Graduate from among students from the Orlando Campus, online leadership program and West Palm Beach.
Two years ago, Pina fell down an 18-foot drop onto a cement pathway while searching for a suspect at dusk. He had 16 fractures and was confined to a wheelchair for the first four months. A year consumed by doctor’s appointments and surgeries ensued.
One of Pina’s new professors visited him several times during his 3-week hospital stay. He spent time with him and prayed with him.
“That spoke volumes,” Pina said. “I can’t even explain what that did for me and my family.”
Soon after his injury, he received a call from his adviser. She knew he had a long recovery ahead, but she explained that there were online programs that he could do while he was in repair. Pina said he’ll never forget her words: “Just don’t quit. We’re here for you when you’re ready.”
“I thought that was amazing,” Pina said. “I know that was huge.”
His wife would rest his laptop on the hospital bed he used at home so that he could complete his assignments, which took his mind off the pain. This December, he finished the last assignment of his undergraduate degree.
“That was His plan for me, and I kept at it,” Pina said.
Through the military, Pina had earned his associate degree in 1993. He served in the military for 16 years, including 13 months in Afghanistan with the Army Reserves from 2004-2005. He also worked in law enforcement for 16 years, first with the Broward Sheriff’s Office and then with Palm Beach.
He returned to PBA in January 2017 so that he could earn his bachelor’s degree and advance in the ranks of the police department. He balanced his coursework with his work responsibilities and his family — a wife and three children in their teens or early 20s.
“I never thought that I had great time management skills. I had to hone in on those skills,” Pina said. “You figure it out.”
Last year, Pina medically retired from the Palm Beach Police Department. It was a tough decision for the 2013 Officer of the Year, former undercover detective and rising star. His faith was tested.
“You couldn’t make me understand why this had to happen,” Pina said. “It was God’s doing, His hands, no question. It just took me awhile to realize.”
A friend invited Pina back to church, and he and his wife have been faithfully attending Christ Fellowship ever since. Pina credits it as a huge part of his ongoing recovery.
A few months ago, Pina started working full-time as a major in the University’s Campus Safety & Security Office under Chief Ann-Marie Taylor, his former superior on Palm Beach. The two retired from their previous roles on the same day.
“It was a huge part of God’s plan to bring me here,” Pina said.
Photo 1: Adam Pina is the Outstanding Graduate from the Catherine T. MacArthur School of Leadership. Pina was seriously injured in a career-ending accident shortly after starting his degree. It didn't stop him from finishing. Photo 2: Adam Pina is now second-in-command in the Campus Safety & Security Office. Chief Ann-Marie Taylor, his former superior on Palm Beach, hired him for the job.