Jimi-Leigh McLean is looking forward to giving back to her community and she does not have to wait long.

Next week Jimi-Leigh will join the Rotorua police force after graduating from Police College in Porirua.

Jimi-Leigh was born in Whakatāne but grew up in Rotorua. At 24 she feels lucky to know what she finally wants to do.

She began her working life at a food manufacturing company which she joined straight out of high school. She worked there for three years before she was employed at Manaaki Ora Trust - Tipu Ora, a small non-government agency based in Ōhinemutu.

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While at Tipu Ora Jimi-Leigh worked as a part of their administration team.

She credits a lot of the skills needed to be a policewoman with the skills she learnt and developed during her time there.

"I was exposed to a lot of training that helped develop my interpersonal skills and broaden my understanding of the hurdles that a lot of our families face.

"There couldn't have been a better stepping stone for me leading into my journey with the New Zealand Police."

Jimi-Leigh was inspired to join the police by a family friend who had been in the police for a few years.

"I sat on that idea for a while and hadn't decided to apply until a good friend of mine told me, 'just hurry up and do it'. I went away and did exactly that."

Jimi-Leigh says her main reason behind joining was simply because she has always had a passion for helping others.

"To me, there is no feeling that is more rewarding. Being a part of the New Zealand Police enables me to do that and give back to the city that helped raise me."

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She is excited about returning home to start her policing career.

"Coming back to my hometown is something I am looking forward to and I am excited to be out on the streets I grew up on.

"During my application process, I had first-hand experience of the work that [the] Rotorua police do every day.

"The two officers I met made a difficult experience as easy as they possibly could for me and my family, even though I was going through one of the toughest days of my life.

"They went above and beyond their job description and from that day I have wanted to be the change in someone's life like they were in mine. I can't wait to be working alongside them."

During her time down in Porirua for training at Police College, Jimi-Leigh had no idea what she had signed up for.

"My first day at the Royal New Zealand Police College was one of the most nerve-racking days of my life.

"I had no idea what to expect and wasn't sure what challenges I would face but I soon realised that everyone there was feeling the same way."

The entire experience has left her feeling even more sure about her decision to join the police and she feels completely supported by the people she has met while training.

"The people I met throughout my time at college were no doubt the highlight of the whole experience.

"I made life-long friends, met some incredibly inspirational people who spoke about their past and we were under the guidance of some of the most supportive staff I have ever met."

Jimi-Leigh's whānau could not be any prouder and as they celebrated her success at graduation alongside her, she reflects on the importance of her family on her journey.

"My whānau are my backbone and without them I know I wouldn't have been able to get to where I am.

"They had been nagging me for ages to join and were stoked when I finally got accepted into college.

"My graduation day was the first time they were all able to see me in uniform and I hope I continue to make them proud every day."

Make sure to look out for her out on the local beat from early next week.