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Educational Scholarship Essay Contest Winner

Pictured (l to r): Jim Bedinger, Division President of National Police Credit Union; Faith P., winner of our 2021 Educational Scholarship Essay Contest; and Scott Arney, CEO of Chicago Patrolmen’s Federal Credit Union.

How has Law Enforcement shaped your life?

September 23, 2002, was not just the day that my dad graduated from the police academy, but it was also the day he made a promise to protect and serve the public no matter what the circumstances may be. At the time I was only two months old, and certainly too young to be able to truly appreciate the sacrifices that my dad was willing to make for the safety and well-being of others, or even come to understand why he felt it was his life’s purpose to do so. However, as we approach his nineteenth year of service he has not only taught me so many life lessons but he has also instilled in me so many important values that come with being in law enforcement. These values include but are certainly not limited to leadership, integrity, courage, dedication, and respect. At a young age, I was taught that embracing and respecting these values would allow me to reach my fullest potential in whatever I set out to accomplish, the added knowing that they were also being followed by those that I had the utmost respect for made them all the more influential upon my life. Law enforcement has unequivocally shaped my life for its values have molded me into the person I am today and will continue to mold the person I will become.

First, leadership and integrity are both core values that have taught me what it means to be a role model for others within my community. Growing up I had always seen my dad as well as those in law enforcement as the epitome of exceptional leaders, for they have the willingness as well as the dedication to lead others towards a common goal or vision through not only their positive influence but also their integrity. Moreover, I had wanted to adopt these important values within my own life which had led to my search for ways I could become a role model for those within my own community. For example, throughout high school, I had joined service clubs such as Crossroads Youth Ministry, LEO Club, and National Honors Society as well as sports teams such as cross country and track and field. Through these extracurricular activities, I was given many leadership as well as community service opportunities that allowed me to become the role model that I had always placed value in becoming. Additionally, my favorite leadership opportunity that truly gave me the ability to be a role model for others was becoming a summer camp counselor for preschoolers. Through this opportunity, I was able to lead by example all the while ensuring that I was holding true to my word and the values that I stand for by displaying integrity. Ultimately, these valuable core values of law enforcement have influenced my being on a multitude of layers, I truly do not know who I would have become had I not adopted the values of leadership and integrity.

Second, dedication and courage are both core values that have taught me that I am able to overcome any challenge that comes my way. Every day my dad and law enforcement alike put their lives on the line for the safety and security of others, they do this not only while being physically courageous but also morally courageous which demonstrates integrity as well as dedication to the profession, for they place character over convenience in order to do what is right. I have always admired these values due to the fact that they demonstrate that taking risks for what is right for yourself and others is not always a bad thing, that as long as you show dedication you will always overcome the challenges that come along your way. For instance, throughout middle school and most of high school I had never wanted to challenge myself, whether it be by taking a difficult class, joining a new club, or even talking to someone new for I was afraid of either failure or rejection. However, through my family’s encouragement and seeing how my dad would make sacrifices and face challenges every time he went to work gave me the push I needed to truly begin believing in myself and my abilities to accomplish great things even if I did face a few obstacles along the way. Subsequently, I began to take harder classes such as human anatomy and AP calculus, socialize with more of my classmates, and even join a few new clubs. Even now I continue to challenge myself as I am enrolled in a rather rigorous nursing program, facing obstacles with both courage and dedication. Ultimately, the admirable core values of law enforcement have completely reshaped my fixed mindset into a growth mindset, allowing me to achieve any goal as well as overcome any challenge.

Lastly, respect is one of the most fundamental core values that has taught me about how mutual appreciation is the key to harmony. However, over the past few years, the relationship between the public and law enforcement has experienced tension as well as stress, for mutual appreciation resides on a tightrope. That being said, law enforcement has continued to serve their communities with respect, all the while working to rebuild mutual trust, for where there is respect there is peace. I have always valued respect and just by seeing how much more valuable it is through the eyes of law enforcement makes me appreciate and embrace it that much more. Through this newfound appreciation and meaning behind respect, I have found that the word I often overlooked transformed into a basic human right. Ultimately, the utmost important core value of law enforcement has not only changed the way I look at a word but it has also altered the way I practice it, for it holds the answers to unanimity.

All in all, law enforcement has undoubtedly shaped my life in unimaginable ways, either by encouraging me to pursue interests or completely altering the way that I look at life. Nevertheless, it does not go unnoticed that if it were not for the sacrifices and the career that my dad decided to pursue then I would certainly not be the same person that I am today, and for that, I will forever be indebted to him. Leadership, integrity, courage, dedication, and respect are core values that will stick with me throughout the rest of my life, values that will never not shape the person I will become. For it is law enforcement that emanates and instills these values upon their communities, making it completely possible to lead the lives that we do.

– Faith P.


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