When Caitlin Emery was a primary school student she was asked to write down what she wanted to be when she grew up.
On that day, and ever since, all she ever wanted to be was a cop.
Earlier this month Probationary Constable Emery, 20, reached her goal, graduating from the NSW Police Academy in Goulburn.
She is now one of three new recruits learning the ropes at Lake Illawarra Area Command.
Const Emery said she had been swayed by stories of her uncle, a former police officer, who spoke of the endless opportunities offered in the force.
"I also didn't really want to be stuck behind a desk all the time," she said.
It has been a challenging year for the state's police, with the deaths of Senior Constable David Rixon at Tamworth in March, and Detective Inspector Bryson Anderson earlier this month.
Despite the very real dangers of the job, Const Emery said she was compelled to follow her passion to serve the community.
"I think it worries my mum more than anything," she said.
"There's huge risks but it's what I've signed up for."
Lake Illawarra Superintendent Wayne Starling said the new officers would face an extremely challenging, but satisfying, career and this was just the first stage in their development.
"The officers and their families should be very proud of reaching the first of what I hope to be many milestones during their career within the NSW Police Force," he said.
Leading Senior Sergeant Leigh Dal Bon will be by Const Emery's side for the next few weeks, guiding the new recruit.
Although she has been with the force for 17 years, Snr Sgt Dal Bon said she was constantly challenged by the job and had just undertaken training to become a part-time rescue operative.
Wollongong Local Area Command welcomed two new recruits after the latest graduation.