Profile of the Month | Ann Marie Carrizales
We cannot wrap up this year without highlighting a real hero. We often find ourselves chasing after actors playing heroic roles and forget to hype the brave acts many play in real life. One such person who we had the privilege to honor at the LCA Houston International Mothers’ Day Soiree this year is former Officer Ann Marie Carrizales.
On October 26, 2013, as an officer for the Stafford Police Department, Officer Carrizales initiated a traffic stop on a vehicle occupied by three men who were members of a violent gang with ties to the MS-13 Mexican Mafia. While speaking with the driver of the vehicle, the front seat passenger opened fire, shooting her in the face and chest. Bleeding, and in severe pain, Ann Marie bravely began pursuit of the suspects, and with the help of various police agencies and Houston Crime stoppers, all three suspects were captured.
Former Officer Ann Marie Carrizales was born in California. Upon graduation, Ann Marie enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and made history when she became the first woman to represent the Corps in the sport of amateur boxing. In 1999, she became the U.S. Women’s National Champion in the Light Welterweight Division and was ranked #1 in the country in her weight division.
The Stafford Police Department and The American Police Hall of Fame awarded Officer Carrizales the Legion of Honor Award. She was also awarded the Silver Star for bravery. Officer Carrizales was honored by Houston Crime Stoppers and awarded The Johnny Klevenhagen Crime Stoppers Award. She was also recognized by the Texas Gang Investigators Association and with the President’s Award. In Austin, Texas, she was awarded the Peace Officer Star of Texas Award by then Texas Governor Rick Perry.
She also travels both nationally and internationally, where she has spoken to various law enforcement agencies, universities, and other organizations. She aspires to bring more awareness to the darkness that can follow a critical incident and speaks candidly about her journey of emotional, physical, and spiritual healing. Ann Marie is happily married and has two children, ages 20 and 11.
It is so true when women are going through challenging or tough times, a makeover is always one step towards healing the inside. Looking good always has a correlation with feeling good. At Hair Designs By Andrea in Rice Village, hair stylist Andrea offered her expertise and services to this woman of substance, Ann Marie Carrizales for a glamorous makeover. LCA Houston International Correspondent, Ruchi Mukherjee sat down with Ann Marie at the hair design studio to chat about her life experiences.
What was your childhood like?
My childhood was complicated. My father is a 100% disabled Vietnam Veteran. He struggled a great deal with what we now know to be Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Back then, there was not the same type of awareness where PTSD was concerned. My father suffered for so many years with no where to turn until he found some sense of peace in God. Because of this, I grew up in a home, that although had a lot of love, was also filled with violence. Domestic/family violence was one of the very first wars I had to fight through in my life. My life was exactly what it needed to be like to mold me into the woman I am today. Loving, compassionate, brave, strong, God fearing and resilient.
Being a female athlete and Marine must have had its own special challenges. What was the experience like and how did it shape your approach to life after?
Being a U.S. Marine shaped my life in EVERY SINGLE WAY POSSIBLE!! It taught me discipline, RESPECT, confidence, integrity, and so much more! The Marine Corps, reinforced what my parents always taught me… that I could do ANYTHING in the world I wanted if I set my mind to it. My dad, who served in both the U.S. Army and the Marine Corps, laid the foundation of mind over matter. He taught me the VALUE of mental toughness. I apply what I learned in boxing and the Marine Corps into almost every aspect of my life. Life can hit you hard and it WILL knock you down, but I am a MARINE. I am a CHAMPION fighter. There is nothing life can hit me with that I cannot counter punch and overcome. I just never quit, because it is never an option.
Many consider you a hero for what you went through the night of your shooting. Who is your hero?
I have two. They are Rebecca and Joe Carrizales, my parents. To me, these two human beings are the epitome of STRENGTH! They jumped over every hurdle life put in front of them. They overcame every adversity. They hit rock bottom, got back up, dusted themselves off, and always kept marching forward. The beauty of that is that they did it TOGETHER. No question, they are my HEROES.
How has your family handled all that you have been through?
All that I have been through, they have been through. We do it together, always. Its been hard, very hard, and at times it felt like we were falling apart both individually and as a family unit. One thing that makes me so proud of my family is our commitment to EACH OTHER. We accept one another, on both the good and bad days and that makes the world of difference. We have handled it the best way we know how, and that’s just to love on each other and be the support system each of us needed during the various times each of us needed it.
I am speechless and so thankful to Andrea to want to do this for me. It is so generous and kind of her to offer this makeover. I have gone through so much in the past two years that I never cared about my hair or looks but that is very important. Women feel good and confident when they get a glam look. The change in the outer look often heals the inside. I am just awed with the love and support some people have offered. Houston truly is a philanthropic city.
What advice do you have for others experiencing challenges in their lives?
DO NOT QUIT. EVER. And never allow it to be an option. We all have an inner strength inside of us. It IS there! And you don’t have to have been a Marine or a champion fighter to have it. We just have to have the belief in ourselves to tap into it. It’s about getting back up. ALWAYS GETTING BACK UP when we’ve been knocked down. BELIEVE you will win. Believe you will endure, and you will. It’s okay to have bad days, just don’t unpack and stay there!