NEW CANAAN — For Annamaria Ceci, being a police officer is a direct way to positively impact her community.

“I’ve always been into helping people,” the 22-year-old Norwalk resident said.

Ceci was one of 79 candidates in the September 2017 recruitment process for an entry-level police officer with the New Canaan Police Department. After successfully enduring tests that included written, physical and medical exams, she was sworn in as an officer on Dec. 11.

“I felt very accomplished,” Ceci said about that day. “Becoming a police officer has been a goal of mine since sixth or seventh grade. For it to finally come true I was a little bit in denial.”

Her family attended her swearing-in day to show their love and support. From the start, they embraced her dreams and passion, she said.

Ceci was born to an Italian father and Colombian mother. Her mother would go on to teach Ceci as well as her brothers how to read, write and speak Spanish fluently.

“I think it’s extremely important for police departments to have Hispanic officers along with officers from different backgrounds,” Ceci said. “I hope that throughout my career in New Canaan I can connect with the Hispanic community in town.”

Ceci graduated from the University of New Haven with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and victim services, an experience she said played a large role in preparing her for the new job.

“I was fortunate to go to school for criminal justice,” Ceci said. “A lot of the material they’re teaching in the classrooms at the academy is very familiar.”

On Dec. 14 she began her training at the Milford Police Academy. In preparation for the physical aspect of the academy, she ran the New York City marathon last year.

“I did lots of training and eating right,” she said. “Running takes up a lot of time out of my schedule. I had to give up certain weekends hanging out with friends to go run and train instead.”

The switch in focus also prepared her for her new role as a New Canaan police officer.

“It’s a new job so you have to stop doing your normal routine and prepare yourself for the police life,” Ceci said.

Her tentative graduation date from the academy is July 2019, after which she will go into field training. In the supervised training she will be shadowed by a fellow New Canaan officer for a minimum of 400 hours. Once this is completed she will be certified as a police officer.

As she looks toward the future, Ceci said she hopes to be heavily involved in New Canaan’s community and work directly with youth. Ceci has interned with the Norwalk Youth Services and said becoming a school resource officer in the future is something she would love to do.

“I ultimately just want to help people in the community make better choices and help them through their difficult times,” Ceci said. “I want to be an all around good officer, have people respect me and vice-versa.”

dj.simmons@hearstmediact.com, 203-842-2568