Twenty-seven-year-old Rena Dearden, a 1997 graduate of Williams High School, received a prestigious honor in June after being named the 2007 Student Resource Officer (SRO) of the year by the Arizona School Resource Association. Dearden works as the SRO for Sedona Red Rock High School.
Dearden said it was a surprise to win the award.
"It was shocking," she said. "It was overwhelming and an honor all at the same time, embarrassing too, because I had to stand in front of 200-plus people while they read the award nomination. It was cool. They have the award ceremony and banquet each year and they do that in Prescott."
Dearden, along with her husband Michael, have lived in the Sedona area for the past eight years. Prior to her job at the Sedona Police Department, Dearden worked for the Humane Society in Flagstaff. She was an animal control officer in Sedona prior to her position as SRO, the latter of which she has held for the past two years. Dearden said she has always liked working with animals and originally planned to become a veterinarian prior to deciding on a job in law enforcement.
"It just kind of happened. I enjoy what I'm doing," Dearden said, adding that she now desires to move up the ranks if she is able to. When school is out, Dearden does regular patrols within Sedona.
"Part of my career plan would be to go into investigations, which is the detective part of it," she said.
Her favorite part of being an SRO is the chance to work with the youth of Sedona.
"I really enjoy education, getting opportunities to go into classrooms and basically educate students on a lot of different law related topics," Dearden said. "The police officer part of it, I really enjoy the investigations and the educating (aspects)."
Dearden's parents, Roxen and Eva Cureton of Williams, couldn't be happier with their daughter's success.
"We didn't even know she'd been nominated for it," said Eva Cureton. "It was exciting; it was nice. She's a hard worker and does a good job. She's always enjoyed doing different things and she liked working with animals at the Humane Society and then the position came open in Sedona for an animal control officer, so she got that job out of something like 24 applicants," Cureton said. "Then they were pushing for her to finally become an officer, so she finally went to officer training."