EDMOND — Sarah Rencken wanted to be a part of law enforcement since she was a child.
“I didn't know what organization to be with until I met a trooper at my church and he really influenced me,” she said. “The patrol is a really tight-knit group and I really liked that about them. They are always there for each other, kind of like a family.”
Rencken, 27, of Owasso, was one of 40 cadets who graduated from the Oklahoma Highway Patrol's academy in a ceremony Thursday at Memorial Road Church of Christ. She worked as a paramedic in Claremore before applying for the academy.
She also played soccer for years, including at Oral Roberts University. At 13, she tore her ACL. Because of the damage she suffered from playing soccer, Rencken had a total knee replacement in October 2009.
Though she does not have full range of motion in her knee, Rencken said it works good enough to do her new job.
“I wouldn't be here if I didn't get it replaced, that's for sure,” she said. “It did a lot better than I expected it to. Toward the end (of the academy), it got a little bit sore but we were all pretty beat up at the end just because it was so demanding.”
Rencken was awarded best academic achievement of the class at graduation. She is one of five new female troopers, the most women to graduate from an academy, officials said.
“It feels amazing to just make an impact on the patrol in that way. We are increasing the female ranks by 33 percent,” she said.
The graduation ceremony was dedicated to the memory of Capt. Rodrick “Pete” Norwood. Norwood, 42, who died in March, was the Public Safety Department's legislative liaison at the state Capitol.
Public Safety Commissioner Michael C. Thompson reminded the new troopers to be examples in their communities.
“Everything you will do from this day forward is going to be under scrutiny. That's not a bad thing, because all you've got to do is go out, work hard and do the right thing. If you make a mistake, learn from it and go on,” Thompson said. “You guys are going to go out and be great role models, because you are going to do what you signed up to do and you're going to do what you swore to do.”