Jennifer Ortiz, the daughter of Gary and Jamie Weenink of Sunnyside, was sworn in as a Washington State Patrol trooper at a ceremony at the state capitol Feb. 10.
Trooper Ortiz received the top academic award for the highest grade point average during the 1,000 hours of training. The class average was 90 percent, with Ortiz scoring 94 percent.
"She's a very gifted individual. I think very highly of her," said Trooper Kevin Forrester, who is an instructor at the WSP Academy.
"Trooper Ortiz was one of three of our cadets who were selected by Evening Magazine for a story that will be shown on King 5 TV in May. Evening Magazine followed the three selected cadets and the other cadets, too, through all of the training," said Forrester.
The troopers were sworn in by Chief Justice Gerry Alexander. Governor Christine Gregoire and WSP Chief John R. Batiste presented them with their commission cards.
Ortiz, a graduate of Sunnyside High School and Washington State University, started out the training as a newly married woman, having received a proposal from fellow WSU school mate, Nick Ortiz, when he came home from Iraq on leave in November 2004. When his tour of duty was finished, they were married in June 2005, two months before she began her state patrol basic training.
Although they talked about moving back to the Lower Valley, Nick, still in the National Guard, is working for a security firm in Vancouver, where Jennifer has been assigned to State Patrol District 5.
The WSP Academy holds about three cadet classes every two years, which produce about 120 new troopers. Only 4 to 6 percent of the applicants make the grade to become troopers.