|October 22, 1999||
Western co-ed gets Explorer's top honor
By John Pirro
DANBURY It was a special evening for Karen Andrees.
But the honor of being the first person from Danbury, and probably the first in all of Fairfield County, to earn the Gold Award as a Police Explorer, made it even more so.
"I didn't know I was going to be the first until just a few weeks ago,'' the 21-year-old Western Connecticut State University criminal justice major and 4'BD-year member of Danbury's Explorer Post 33, said.
Scouting officials, city and police officials, family friends and fellow Explorers jammed Tarrywile Mansion last night to see the highest honor in Exploring bestowed on Andrees.
The Gold Award for Explorers is comparable to becoming an Eagle Scout, said John Farley, commissioner for the Yankee Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Exploring is a division of scouting for young men and women, ages 14 to 21, who are interested in a law enforcement career.
"She's definitely the first in Danbury and probably the first in Fairfield County,'' Farley said.
Danbury police Detective Matt McNally, adviser to the local Explorers post, said Andrees' "endless enthusiasm'' was immediately apparent when she joined the male-dominated group, becoming its third female member.
Through her efforts, the post increased its membership, especially among girls, he said. She rose through the ranks to her current post of Explorer chief, and her accomplishments are almost too numerous to list, he said.
Last year, she was one of 30 Explorers from across the country who were chosen to attend a special program at the FBI National Academy.
"Her diligence and hard work have set the standard by which others will be measured,'' McNally said.
In addition to the Gold Award, Andrees received other plaques and awards last night, including proclamations from Mayor Gene Eriquez and Gov. John G. Rowland.
"It's just a great honor to get letters from the mayor and the governor,'' Andrees said later. "And to be the first makes it more special.''
While Andrees, who is due to graduate from WCSU in December, hasn't made a firm career choice, Diane Usas of the Yankee Council, who served as mistress of ceremonies, said: "Based on her resume, we may be looking at the first female director of the FBI.''
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