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When I Grow Up, I Want To Be

These 3 Huntsvillians are living their childhood dreams of being on the frontlines helping others

If you close your eyes tight, you may remember those days - those days of childhood when we all dreamed of being heroes. Perhaps you were a mighty firefighter rescuing a family from a burning building, a police officer fighting crime like Superman or Wonder Woman, a cowboy capturing the bad guys and riding off into the sunset, or a nurse saving a wounded soldier. Whatever you dreamed of being, it was the thought of being on the frontlines helping others that was most exciting, and remains so for children, generation after generation.

For this patrol officer, fire marshal, and nurse, those childhood dreams became reality. There is a common thread that helped them each achieve their dreams - people in their lives who encouraged them and challenged them. From a teacher who pushes you to reach your true potential to a parent who supports your dreams, whatever they may be, it is those around us who mold us and help us become who we are.

REBEKAH CROCKER, PATROL OFFICER HUNTSVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT

What did you dream of being when you were little?     

My dream was to help people. When my family and I moved back to America from West Africa, I remember seeing police officers helping others. Every time I saw a police officer I told myself, “That is what I want to do when I grow up.”

Who is your hero? 

My grandmother, Martha Pullen. I admire her loving heart, courage, and success. I strive to be like her in everything I do. 

Who influenced you the most in your career? 

My parents have been there every step of the way by supporting and pushing me in everything I do. They know my goals and make sure I meet them. 

Who is your mentor?         

My grandfather, Bill Crocker. He has given me the best advice when it comes to being successful. When I accomplish an obstacle that I didn’t believe I could do, he always says, “see, it didn’t kill you; just made you stronger.”

Which teacher influenced you the most and why? 

Jan Waller is a leader and teacher who taught me what being a strong woman is mentally and physically. 

DAN WILKERSON, FIRE MARSHAL

What did you dream of being when you were little?

A cowboy 

Who influenced you the most in your career?

Fire Marshal Joe Jordan 

Who is your mentor?

Fire Chief Howard McFarlen

Which teacher influenced you the most?

Mrs. Watson, a biology teacher at Lee High School. She had a unique way of teaching biology that started my love for science that I applied to my fire service career. She was also very strict while being caring, which led me to develop self-discipline.

SUZANNE CROCKER, NURSE PRACTITIONER 

What did you dream of being when you were little?

My entire life I dreamed of becoming a missionary nurse to Africa. I spent over 10 wonderful years in that role in West Africa before moving back to the USA.  

Who is your hero?

My heroes were my grandparents Viola and Ernest Laramore. My grandmother only had an eighth grade education, but she was the glue that held the family together. She embodied the verse, “A kindhearted woman gains respect” treating everyone with love and kindness. My grandfather was born in 1898, he was a true entrepreneur, he even became a contractor/builder after reading materials on it from the library. Both lived into their 90s with clear minds, continuing to encourage their family. 

Which teacher influenced you most?

Mr. Stanley was a retired editor for the Atlanta Journal who opted to give back to his community by becoming an English teacher. Because of his unwillingness to accept less than perfect essays, I learned to write. Later in life that helped me write a book Pig in a Taxi and many papers. He pushed us to succeed and although he initially seemed critical, he was very free with praise when we lived up to his standards.

The teacher that influenced me most was Mrs. Watson, a biology teacher at Lee High School. She had a unique way of teaching biology that started my love for science that I applied to my fire service career. She was also very strict while being caring, which led me to develop self-discipline.

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