JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Friday was three years in the making for 31-year-old Tara Walker. Walker is the first African-American female firefighter in the 143-year history of Jersey City. She graduated in a class of 26.
“I knew there were a few women — they were teasing me, and things like that,” says Walker.
Walker submitted an application back in 2011, and it was a long process to pass written, physical and physiological exams. After all of that, she started eight weeks of training back in May.
Walker has a degree in sports management from St. John’s University. She grew up in Jersey City and played basketball both in New Jersey and overseas. She had been teaching physical education in Paterson until she found out she was finally going to become a firefighter.
To show her commitment, Walker cut off her waist-long dreadlocks. Now there is nothing in Walker’s way of achieving her dream of helping others.
“One day we were doing it — they were getting in the way,” she says.
Walker says she can keep up with the guys, but she jokes that the guys may not be able to keep up with her — especially on the basketball court.