Wayne Community College has graduated its 77th Basic Law Enforcement Training class. The 10 cadets who completed the college’s academy received certificates to work as sworn law enforcement officers in North Carolina.
Certificates were conferred on:
- Larri Calvillo Baltazar, Ja’Shawn Orlando Faire, Jeffrey Alan Garren, Austin Neal Kornegay, Kayla Graham Whelan, and Angela Christine Yeoman of Goldsboro
- Devin Ryan James of Dudley
- Edward Sabier Martinez of Mount Olive
- Maya Caroline Gonzalez and Jaslyne Selisha May Tyson of Pikeville.
Awards were presented for outstanding performance in various training areas.
Garren garnered the Major J. Memmelarr Student Excellence Award. In addition to being the overall top graduate, WCC Public Safety Division Dean Beverly Deans said that Garren demonstrated a “true and sincere dedication” to the law enforcement profession.
Garren “struggled from the very first day we entered to stay on top during the long hours and never-ending demands of the academy, myself, and the instructors. Every situation they were exposed to, they always came out with a positive and professional attitude,” Deans said.
Formerly the Valedictorian Award, it was renamed to honor Jay R. Memmelarr Jr., an officer with the Goldsboro Police Department who died in the line of duty in 2017. He had been the valedictorian of his 1991 WCC Basic Law Enforcement Training class and became an instructor in the academy in 1995.
The Physical Fitness Award went to Kornegay. He excelled in all activities designed to prepare the recruits for the Police Officer’s Physical Ability Test and a timed mile-and-a-half run.
Yeoman was presented the “Top Gun” award for demonstrating the most overall proficiency in use of firearms. Cadets complete 48 hours of firearms work in both the classroom and on the firing range.
Yeoman also received the Leadership Award. According to WCC Law Enforcement Coordinator Angie Blizzard, she exemplified the definition of leadership.
“In and out of the academy, they demonstrated service, dedication, and leadership. They encouraged and displayed high expectations of not only themself but of their classmates as well. They were goal oriented, hard working, believed in selfless service, and encouraging. They demonstrated a positive attitude and were responsible,” Blizzard said of Yeoman.
Garren and Faire were selected to speak during the ceremony on behalf of their classmates. They talked about the rigors of the program, the dedication and sacrifices of their loved ones and friends that allowed them to complete it, and the respect they have for their instructors and their new profession.
“It was a long semester. It was a long four months. I know I’m not the only one that kind of wanted to give up at times,” Faire said, but they made it through because “that motivation and support within each other and within our families give you that little push to keep going,” Faire said.
Faire called Deans and Blizzard “the two most important ladies I have met in my 21 years of being on this Earth. I have met a lot of people, but these two individuals really made an impact on my life this semester. … I always want to remember you guys from now, until I retire, until the Lord takes me home.”
“We are better equipped now for the first chapter of our law enforcement career,” said Garren. “With the guidance of Ms. Deans and Ms. Blizzard, we gained a stronger understanding of our direction using our moral compass with words like integrity, knowledge, loyalty, humility, sincerity, courage, and kindness.”
From the beginning of the program, Garren said, the cadets were asked why they wanted to go into law enforcement. “I believe that in my heart, and in the hearts of this class, the answer is simple, it is truly the desire to do good for others,” he said.
Deans acknowledged the mental and physical challenges the cadets had faced during more than 700 hours of training covering a minimum of 39 aspects of law enforcement. She congratulated them for the commitment that got them through it all.
“You have completed the transformation from citizen to law enforcement officer. You have passed all of the state-mandated segments, survived the physical and mental training of academy life, sacrificed a lot over the last four months, and successfully arrived at this new moment in your life,” said Deans.
“The first line of defense for your community lies with you,” Deans said. “We are there to protect and serve. We are the 24/seven help line and defense to our streets and our neighborhoods. It is your responsibility to protect and serve the citizens of your communities.”
“You have a unique opportunity because you can dramatically change someone’s life for the better by taking the time to care, truly protect, and serve,” Deans said.
“We’re probably living in the most challenging time of my lifetime and you have stepped forward,” Dr. Thomas Walker, the college’s president, said, “Ninety-nine percent of the people that you meet in life don’t have the courage to do what you’re doing. So I thank you from the bottom of my heart because when 99 percent take a step back, you’re the one percent that takes a step forward.”
Blizzard capped off the ceremony with advice for the graduates.
“Uphold the sense of duty, dignity, and discipline that you feel today. Do not be impressed by the authority that will be granted by your badge but rather, be humbled by it, for it is always going to be much larger than you are. And remember, your job gives you authority, but your behavior gives you respect” she said.
With this graduating class, the school has produced 1,180 graduates since its inception as a curriculum program 1983. Currently, WCC graduates work for 52 different law enforcement agencies in this state and more elsewhere.
WCC’s academy is accredited by the North Carolina Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission and North Carolina Sheriffs’ Education and Training Standards Commission through the N.C. Community College System.