When I attended the Alaska Military Youth Academy, I realized that this was the first day of the new me. I was done doing the same things that were getting me nowhere in life. I was done using excuses for keeping me at a place that I knew I shouldn’t have been in. Attending the ChalleNGe program was a new path in my life, and it created many opportunities for me.

There are two major things that I learned, which have led me to be successful today. They are:


I stayed loyal to what I said I wanted to do. My end goal is to become an Alaska State Trooper. I’ve been attending school full time at the University of Alaska Anchorage to make that dream come true. I spent many hours in the gym every week, working on my physical fitness and stamina to be in law enforcement. At age 17 I weighed 208 pounds. I currently weigh 160 pounds. I’m committed my mind, my heart, my time, and my physical health to preparing to becoming an Alaska State Trooper. I’ve faced many obstacles and hardships that could of damaged my commitment and passion of becoming an Alaska State Trooper, but I have let nothing get in the way of pursuing my dream.


When the going gets rough, I look at the greater good and the big picture. Sometimes I get overwhelmed, but I don’t ever let my dream slip away from the challenges I face. I work full time, and go to school full time, and it gets very stressful. I push through it. I know if I push through the difficulties and challenges, I will one day proudly stand with my brothers and sisters in blue. I will protect the good from the evil, bring justice to those who commit crimes and break the law, and bring justice to who those who are victims of crimes and tragedies.

Being successful isn’t about talent, its not about money, its about who wants it the most, and who works the hardest at what they want. Life is about the paths you choose. Some can that you choose can be paths that will help you, some will hinder you. My path for law enforcement started at 16 years old, when I started volunteering with victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. I fell in love with this line of work, and realized I wanted to go down the path of being in law enforcement. I wasn’t making the best choices in life, or going down the right path, so I enrolled into the Alaska Military Youth Academy. This path forever changed my life. Because of this path, I was selected to be the Ambassador of the National Youth Guard Foundation. To prepare for the ChalleNGe Champions Gala of which I spoke, I was invited on the set of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit by the lovely Mariska Hargitay.

Life is about the paths you choose. Because of the paths I chose, I am a senior at the University of Alaska, pursuing my Masters Degree. The National Guard Youth Foundation, and the Alaska Military Youth Academy changed my life. These were positive paths and positive steps to ensure my career as an Alaska State Trooper upon graduating college.

-Lena Illig

Alaska Military Youth Academy graduate