CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Each spring, Sgt. Shallon Oglesby reads more than 100 essays from students across the state.
It's Oglesby's responsibility to read through each one of the 250-word essays, submitted by middle and high school students, and decide who makes the cut for the Junior Trooper Academy, a weeklong program that lets teenagers experience police training.
Oglesby, who has been a member of the West Virginia State Police for 15 years, has served as coordinator of the program since 2006.
She said the students who submit essays all come from different backgrounds. Each has his or her own unique voice.
"They write things like, 'It's always been my dream to be a trooper,'" she said.
Other essays are from students who come from impoverished or abusive backgrounds. They often say their interest in law enforcement stems from a desire to help others in similar situations.
"I get them from all ends of the spectrum," she said. "I've seen them all."
Out of all the essays, Oglesby narrows her choices down by about half.
"This is not a corrective camp. It's for kids who want to be here," she said.
To be considered for the free program, students must fill out an application that includes their personal essay and an endorsement from a retired or active state trooper, a member of the state Legislature or the superintendent of their county's school system.
This year's class of junior cadets has 52 students that range in age from 14 to 17.