This is the sixth of 20 profiles about The Gazette's Best and Brightest Class of 2014.
Losing a longtime friend in a car crash strengthened Cassandra Bachman's passion to become a police officer.
A year ago, her 17-year-old friend Jacob lost control of his car and slammed into a tree, killing him instantly. No one else was in the car.
They'd been friends since the sixth grade.
"I now, more than ever, dream of becoming a police officer in hopes of keeping others safe," Bachman said. "Losing my best friend and seeing the impact it had on those who loved him has been one of the hardest things I've experienced in my life."
Bachman's interest in becoming a police officer first was sparked after she was bullied in school her freshman year.
"I was picked on and called names, mostly through middle school," she said.
In high school, she sought out the police officer who was assigned as the school's resource officer for advice on how to handle bullying.
"He was really helpful and nice to talk to, an authority figure," she said. "I'm drawn to being able to help protect and serve others."
For the past two years, Bachman has been a part of The Colorado Springs Police Cadet Explorer Program, where she's participated in ride-alongs with police and volunteered at community events.
"Due to her hard work, it did not take long for Cassandra to be promoted to sergeant, taking on a leadership role of supervising several cadets," said cadet adviser Sgt. Olav Chaney. "Cassandra has admirable qualities and is not without a sense of humor, always finding a way to put a smile on another person's face."
Bachman also graduated from the Leading Edge class, a three-month youth community service program sponsored by Leadership Pikes Peak.
She developed public speaking skills and learned about time management and teamwork. She visited the Marian House Soup Kitchen and a homeless shelter.
"I loved being a part of the program because they showed me a side of the community I had never been exposed to," she said. "The program gave me a sense of reality and a want to assist in any way possible through future volunteer opportunities."
DISCOVERY CANYON CAMPUS
Parents: Lisa and Phil Bachman
College plans: University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
Other: Community Trustee Award; Sergeant, Police Cadet Explorer Program; YMCA Value Award for Caring; Leadership Pikes Peak, Leading Edge Program