My name is Margie Santibanez-Stacy and I would like to share how my positive experiences with the Arizona Department of Liquor encouraged me to rise above teenage peer pressures, and pursue a higher education. I had the distinct privilege of being a Covert Underage Buyer (CUB), which is an underage person who ensures businesses are not selling alcohol to kids. My 2.5 years as a CUB were both rewarding and fulfilling to know I was protecting my peers from accessing alcohol and doing my part to make my community a safer place. I began working CUBs at 17 and it introduced me to a different branch of law enforcement, broadened my perspective on the additional effects of underage drinking in regards to businesses, and helped me expand my networks through the detectives that I worked with.
After my first CUB buy, I remember thinking, this was too easy. It should never be easy for a teenager to simply go to the store and buy alcohol illegally. The CUB program is not meant to trick business owners, which is contrary to popular belief. The hope is that they would not sell to me or any other teenager, but I was often disappointed. It astonished me how careless the clerks would be in regards to checking my I.D. and how assumption played a major role. I knew that underage drinking is not a matter to be taken lightly, but I also learned of the penalties that a business faces in the unfortunate event they selling to a minor. It is a lesson to be learned for the establishment that obtaining a liquor license is a responsibility, and that the intention is for them to not repeat the offense in order to provide a safer community.
As a high school student, negative influences were endless and the pressure of real life was beginning to hit. However, CUBs allowed me to gain further insight to my chosen field of interest by having the firsthand opportunity to work alongside detectives who shared their experiences and provided career advice. They served as mentors and provided me with a great influence to pursue and complete my Bachelor's Degree in Justice Studies. After working CUBs, lifelong friendships were gained as well as professional connections.
My interest in the Department of Liquor was stronger than ever and I was offered a full time job as a Customer Service Representative, largely because I was given the opportunity to show my work ethic and character as a CUB. This has allowed me to learn the application process to obtain a liquor license, the thorough background checks an applicant must undergo, and training that one must go through to successfully be recognized as a State of Arizona license.
Working CUBs is one of my most memorable experiences as it is not something that every teenager can say they have done, but also because I know that I was able to do my part in promoting safer communities. Far too many alcohol-related incidents occur and it is an even greater tragedy when it involves minors as it is something that could have been prevented. Underage drinking is not a minor issue therefore; it is imperative for awareness to be promoted in order to provide safer communities. The current CUBs make me proud and I am hopeful to work alongside them one day if they choose to take advantage of the career opportunities at the Arizona Department of Liquor.