FAIRBANKS, Alaska - A dozen young men and women walked the stage Friday, completing their course work under the University of Alaska Fairbanks' Community and Technical College Law Enforcement Academy.
Each graduate performed around eight or more hours of community service as part of their completion requirements, and after 13-weeks of rigorous training, these young professionals are off to serve Alaska.
As part of the community service requirement, a few of the recruits organized a fundraiser and food drive in honor of fallen Fairbanks police Sargent Allen Brandt, with the proceeds going to the family of Sargent Brandt and the food bank.
Mrs. Natasha Brandt, was there to accept the money raised and a banner displaying love and support for the fallen hero.
"This is an absolute momentous occasion for these folks,” Program Coordinator Dusty Johnson said addressing the crowd.
After hearing from their teachers and mentors, each graduate chose someone important in their life to pin their badge on them and one by one they accepted their diploma.
"I'm pretty ecstatic honestly. It's a real good time right now," Academy Graduate Anthony Thomas said.
Each graduate had their own reason behind joining the safety profession. Iris Lane was one of the few females graduating during this course.
"There's very little representation in the Inupiaq community and being a female and being Inupiaq that's something that I want other females that are Inupiaq or females in general to have someone to look to," she said.
Jason Henry also found his own interest in law enforcement, "I love my community, I'm from Metlakatla Alaska. I started out first responding with our local volunteer fire department, developed an interest with law enforcement and here I am now,” he said.
These 12 graduates are just some of the more than 300 UAF CTC Law Enforcement Academy graduates employed across Alaska in police and other security positions. The first session of the UAF CTC Law Enforcement Academy was in July 2001 and over the past 16 years, 500 students have attended the academy.
Graduate Jason Henry is on his way back to Metlakatla to serve his community, Iris Lane is off to Texas to continue her education in criminal justice and Anthony Thomas is off to Dillingham.