Woman, 49, Becomes Arizona Police Department's 'Rookie Of The Year'

Wendy Klarkowski, police officer rookie of the yearIf there's one thing members of the baby boom generation have proven it's that, when it comes to a career, there's always a second act.

A good example is that of 49-year-old Wendy Klarkowski, a police officer in suburban Phoenix who has been named Rookie of the Year at the Surprise Police Department, The Arizona Republic reports.

Becoming a police officer was a lifelong dream of Klarkowski, who previously worked for more than 20 years as an office manager at her church.

But like so many of her generation, life had other plans -- at least early on.

"Right out of high school, I met my husband, who at the time was a highway patrolman," she tells the Republic. "We got married and we decided to have a child. One of us had to have a normal life, so I was a stay-at-home mom."

After experiencing a health scare in 1997 caused by an autoimmune disorder, Klarkowski underwent years of treatment that included chemotherapy -- leaving her frail, overweight and barely able to walk.

By 2006, she was healthy again and ready to pursue her dream of becoming a police officer -- but not immediately. She became a 911 operator first, but as the Republic notes, "It nudged at the edges of her dream, but didn't quite reach it."

Encouraged by her husband and mentored by her son, Tim (pictured with his mother above), himself a Surprise police officer, Klarkowski enrolled in an officer training program at a local community college and got fit.

Supervisors at the Surprise police department say it was the officer's grit and determination that led to the selection of Klarkowski, who stands 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighs 118 pounds, as Rookie of the Year.

Being older has its advantages in helping her do her job, Klarkowski says. She doesn't become easily rattled and views her job as a privilege not a right, a point of view many young people don't share.

And, as she tells the Republic, "I'm having fun."

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