TAMPA (FOX 13) - Hillsborough County Sherriff Deputy Marylin Alvarez has been serving and protecting the community for 20 years.
"Ninety-nine point nine percent of us who do this job don't do it for the recognition, you know. We do it because we love the work and we want to help people," Deputy Alvarez said.
She has 12 years of duty serving as the Hispanic liaison for the sheriff's office. She teaches new immigrants about law enforcement.
"I speak to people who come from countries where law enforcement isn't respected, where they are scared of law enforcement," she continued. "My focus is when they come here to know that they can trust law enforcement that we are here to help them."
Alvarez has a passion for law enforcement. Her first career goal was to be a lawyer, but she changed her mind after a three-month internship with Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
"After spending time and seeing the different things that they were doing -- how they were helping people and seeing what an amazing agency the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office was -- I kind of decided that the law thing isn't for me. Law enforcement is."
Deputy Alvarez's compassion and drive to help others is the reason why she was selected as 2017's Hispanic Heritage Woman of the Year.
"This is kind of like a lifetime achievement award, but I tell everybody this this by no means is the end. In fact, this just encourages me, gives me even more energy to do more," Alvarez said.
It’s energy that she is using to help make Hillsborough County a better place.
"I've been blessed that I've had people who have done a lot for me, so my thing is to continue life paying it forward."