SCOTTSDALE, Ariz - While growing up in Fountain Hills, Ariz., Jessie Vazquez knew what she wanted to do with her life.
"I have pictures of me in fire helmets as a little kid," Vazquez recalled.
And ever since then, she never wavered from her goal of joining the fire service, thanks in large part to the support she got from her family. She says her parents always thought she might be one of those people who does something "a little bit different, and that's a good thing."
Vazquez was outstanding in softball and soccer, but after college her path to the fire service seemed natural to her.
"I knew that I wanted a job where not only was I going to be very active, but that I had a team," she said. "Growing up I always had a team."
In 2015, Vazquez got the job she always wanted, but she also joined a small, but growing, club of extraordinary female firefighters.
"I get the opportunity to represent that group and that minority," Vazquez said. "And I take that responsibility very seriously."
Not only is she an advocate for women currently in the fire service, but Vazquez has taught teen girls interested in public safety for the last three years. Vazquez is a guiding force for girls participating in Valley public safety camps like Mesa's Aspire Academy and Scottsdale's Public Safety Teen Academy.
"She has found inspiration through her life by getting people to stretch themselves," said Lori Schmidt, Teen Academy organizer and Scottsdale Fire Department Public Information Officer.
The ladder of success can be steep, and sometimes the path through life can get can get cloudy and dark, but not anymore for Public Safety Teen Academy recruits like Grace McWilliams, 15, and Nataliana Espinosa, 17.
"She helped me whenever I was failing at an activity," McWilliams said. "Jessie brought me up--she made me actually do it."
Vasquez is inspiring the next generation of firefighters.
"I'm gonna be able to push past my limits now and know that if I did this, I can do anything. Nothing is impossible now," Espinosa said.
12 News offers thanks and gratitude to incredible public servants like Vazquez.