We're going to take a short detour today away from my normal whining and complaining and focus on what is really really important: my baby brother. Today he graduates from the police academy and I could not be prouder of him. There was a time when I was hoping to be able to attend his graduation, but now I will have to settle for a video of the event, which makes me a bit sad. But it's time to say some things that would embarrass the hell out of him if he knew I had a blog and was posting about him :)
My youngest brother is eight years younger than I am and we have never had the opportunity to be really close. When he was in fourth grade, I was off to college. When he was fourteen, I got married. We've just had a bit too much of an age gap to meet up in the middle. The four years he went to college here in town with me were the best because we met up every Friday to go out to eat and catch up; that was probably the most time we had ever spent together.
Mark always was put in a slightly difficult situation. In high school, I was way into band, music, and drama and my other brother was really into football. Mark was good in both areas, but, of course, was always being compared to his older siblings and seldom left to achieve on his own. I'm sure that was a bit tough. In addition, I was always pretty good at English and the Social Sciences while my brother was an overachiever at Math and Science. Again, this left Mark with no real place to excel on his own. I don't know if school was quite as easy for him either; he worked a lot harder than I ever did for his grades and should be really proud of being able to balance his activities and schoolwork.
In addition, my other brother went on to dental school and became a dentist. I went on to get my Master's and PhD. It's always been a bit weird for him because he has NO desire to continue on in school, and so I think he feels like a bit of an oddball being the only "non-doctor" in the family. I know that none of us have ever thought twice about it because we know he's pursuing the job he wants, but I think it's still been a bit hard for him to pursue his chosen field.
He majored in criminal justice with a minor in psychology at school and always knew he wanted to be a police officer like my father. Mark isn't the kind of guy to be cooped up in an office all day - he's happiest when he's out fishing, camping, or hunting, so he knew he needed a different kind of job that let him roam around. He did an internship with DNR, but unfortunately, that's an area hit hard by cutbacks, so there was no real future there. He did his internships, got amazing grades, and had excellent recommendations and references. Unfortunately, the economy hit the toilet when he graduated and he couldn't find a job. That was in 2009.
I won't go into the trials and tribulations of dealing with different police departments - getting interviews but no responses, scoring at the top of their list and then being told he wasn't a good fit, poor communication, poor timing - it was like if there was a bad luck problem, he had it. He even passed up one sure thing job offer for the job he really wanted, only to be told he couldn't have that job later on (after being promised it). It's all been a very big mess.
Through it all, he's been so patient. He's worked at the world's crappiest landscaping business and has been treated like utter shit as an employee there. But he stays because he is loyal and decent jobs are very hard to find. He worked 12-14 hour days in the broiling summer and was laid off in the winter - only to be called in if ice or snow warranted. He had to move back in with my parents and face the fact that he was a college graduate who couldn't find a job. I'm sure this was monumentally hard for him.
Where a lot of people would have given up, he just tried harder. He applied to more places and took more tests - statewide - even though each test was quite expensive. He spent hours and hours every day working out; he was running miles a day even after working for 12 hours in a heat advisory. He was lifting weights and doing cardio. He got himself into the best shape ever.
And it finally paid off. After two years of this kind of work and frustration, he finally got the job offer he had been waiting for at the department he wanted. He still had to complete the police academy and six months of probation before his job was "secure," but he was up to it. He has just completed twelve weeks of intense police training and physical training five days a week. He's studied hard and aced his tests. He has gone through a solid week of testing for the past five days to get all of his certifications. And he is graduating at the top of his class. I could not be prouder of him. This kid worked so hard and went through so much to get to this point - and come Monday he'll be out in a squad car doing the job he's always wanted to do.
So, congratulations Mark! I always knew you could do it and I'm so proud of you. After 9pm tonight, you're an official officer and about to start your amazing career!