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Constable Stephanie Lee (27) graduated from the Royal New Zealand Police College in Porirua on October 24.
Of the 59 new police graduating, she was the only recruit deployed to Dunedin.
She began working at Dunedin Central police station on Monday.
At the graduation ceremony she was presented the Commissioner's Award for leadership.
The recipient was selected for having an "ability to lead'' and was decided on from votes of fellow recruits in her wing and police staff at the college.
The reasons for her selection were never revealed but her leadership skills were recognised after a cognitive test during a two-hour physical training session.
Born and raised in Dunedin, she attended the gym and played football in Green Island to keep fit.
"I've always been into exercise.''
Before going to the police college, she had worked in administration in Dunedin law firm Guest Carter.
She decided on a change in her career path because she wanted to "challenge'' herself.
"I wanted to do something different every day and you get that with police.''
Being a police officer also gave her a greater opportunity to help people in her community.
The biggest challenge of her 16-week college experience was the first big exam at the seven-week mark.
"Once you get through that, you move on to firearms and driving training - which is a bit more fun and practical.'''
When asked her long-term career goals with police were she replied. "I'm one to suss it out and find out what I like, and what I'm better at, before I set something in stone - but I do quite like the Armed Offenders Squad.''
Const Lee had no firearms experience before she entered nine days of training, firing Glock pistols and M4 rifles, but learned the skills quickly.
"I wasn't too bad.''