The winner of the Officer Eric Williams Essay Contest “To Be, or Not To Be” is Gabrielle Durso, a student at the Lackawanna College. Gabrielle will receive a scholarship award in the amount of $1,000.

Gabrielle Durso of Waymart, PA, discovered the essay contest on the Officer Eric Williams Outreach Facebook page, and express immense interest in the Officer Eric J. Williams scholarship. As someone who takes her education very seriously, Gabrielle put her diligence and work ethic on display when she wrote her essay. Gabrielle is very deserving of the scholarship as she has always maintained good grades and a shining reputation with her teachers. Congratulations Gabrielle, and thank you for all of your hard work.

Gabrielle’s essay is available to read below.


Chances are that if a random selection of children were asked what they wanted to be when they grew up, at least one of them would say that they aspire to be a police officer. In the innocence of a child’s mind, law enforcement are seen in such a light that they are worthy of all the respect and admiration that they can possibly contrive; growing up and facing the harsh realities of the world, however, plants a different idea in those very same minds that once looked up to law enforcement officials. Regardless, if my future children make it known to me that they desire to achieve a career in law enforcement – whether that be in terms of a police officer, corrections officer, or anything else – I will wholeheartedly support their decision.

On the surface, law enforcement sounds easy enough: ensure that citizens are following the law and if they are not, act accordingly. This could not be farther from the truth, especially concerning the job duties of a police or corrections officer. If my child has a genuine interest in this field, I will do everything in my capacity to help them reach this goal. If my son or daughter is inspired and passionate about pursuing a career of this nature, it is definitely not my place as a future parent to tell them that their career aspirations are not practical, far too dangerous, or that they are simply just ‘not allowed’ to be in law enforcement. Being a career likened with an incredible amount of respect, authority, and excitement on a daily basis. there is an undoubted level merit in being a police or corrections officer as well, like the ability to change lives in a meaningful way, guide others to make better and more informed choices, and even save lives in a plethora of situations.

In raising my future children, I want to instill in them as many honorable qualities as possible that also transfer well into the real world. These qualities include empathy and compassion for others, the ability to work well individually and as part of a team, possess strong problem-solving capabilities, carry themselves with a high level of professionalism, be a good leader to their peers, and maintain honest and ethical behaviors at all times. In the instance that these qualities align with those necessary for a life dedicated to law enforcement, then I would not have a problem with my child engaging in this line of work. As a future parent, it is also my duty to educate my child about the dangers, power and authority, and true responsibilities associated with being a police or corrections officer. If they want to work in this field, I have a liability to make sure my child understands the implications of this kind of job; when they are of an appropriate age, I would want to show them the good, the bad, and the ugly of being a law enforcement officer–not to influence their decision one way or another but rather to communicate to them what these kinds of positions truly entail.

I will always strive to provide a comprehensive foundation for my children to gain the necessary education and skills for whatever it is they are passionate about. If they have the right qualities; understand the dangers, power, and responsibility of a career in law enforcement; and are willing to commit to a lifetime of education, training, and service and sacrifice, then my role as a parent is to be their cheerleader and encourage them to BE what their heart desires.