NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A New Jersey state trooper is making a difference in her community.

Sgt. Stacey Lloyd beat the odds of a tough life, and now she’s helping others in need. Her patrol vehicle was parked on Newark’s Martin Luther King Boulevard on Wednesday, where she grew up bouncing from apartment to apartment in a domestic violence household on welfare.

“My dad actually died in prison six-years-ago,” she told CBS2’s Meg Baker. “He started on heroin and was locked up on accessory to murder.”

Her mother worked hard to support Lloyd and her two sisters but fell in an abusive relationship and turned to alcohol.

“Coming from that background, feeling defenseless about what’s going on in the community and my household I had to come back and make a difference,” she said. “It’s one reason I chose this profession.”

Lloyd first worked at McDonald’s and saved enough money to go to college at 25, but discovered she only had an eighth grade education even though she graduated high school. She joined the military, and found a mentor who helped her to persevere.

She now recruits people to join the force, along with Officer Quaron Crenshaw who grew up in ten different foster homes. Now, he tells people to never give up on their dreams.

“I’m out here and have the ability to be transparent, tell them my background, find out their background and make a connection,” Lloyd says.

Her peers say her ability to tell her story show people who think they can’t accomplish their dreams that they can set Lloyd apart. Students she spoke with on Tuesday most definitely responded.

“I really want to do this,” Rutgers Newark student Damandeep Singh said. “It’s very inspiring, and means anyone can do it if they put their mind to it.

Lloyd is continuing her education and will earn her PhD next year.

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