DPS names Wende Wakeman as first ever female Texas Ranger major

Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 6:27 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Wende Wakeman is now serving as the state’s first ever female Texas Ranger major, right here in Waco.

Major Wakeman is starting her new role with more than 20 years of experience with the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Most recently she came to Waco from the Texas Ranger Headquarters in Austin where she oversaw the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative program, working on investigating various sexual assault cases.

The Texas Ranger Museum in Waco is filled with faces of the very first Texas Rangers, dating all the way back to the Texas Revolution in the 1830s. But among the many cases lies one filled with the women who made history.

”We’re really proud of these new exhibits that discuss the history and that lineage,” Christine Rothenbush, marketing and development director for the museum, said.

A photo of Major Wakeman sits in another case at the museum filled with pictures of three other women who are currently serving as Texas Rangers across the state.

”I think everyone else thinks it’s a bigger deal than I do,” Major Wakeman told KWTX.

Major Wakeman said when she first became a highway patrol trooper in 1998, her goal was to just become a Texas Ranger.

”At that time we had 2 female rangers,” Major Wakeman said. “So that was my original goal just to become a ranger, everything beyond that has been a plus.”

Historically the first women assisted with the state highway patrol, back in the 1930s, infiltrating illegal gambling across the state.

”They were commissioned as special rangers, so they didn’t have the ability to arrest,” Rothenbush said.

It wasn’t until 1993 that women were allowed to officially become a Texas Ranger.

”When the first female rangers started the organization they had all the skills and abilities as a man,” Rothebush said.

As Major Wakeman now makes history she wants to remind girls across the state that they can achieve anything.

”Set your sights on a goal and just work hard and have a great work ethic,” Major Wakeman said. “When you come into work every day, always give 110%.”

Major Wakeman encourages anyone interested, male or female, in becoming a Texas Ranger to submit an application.