Touted as the "West Point" of the US Fire Service, Guam can now celebrate the first CHamoru female to graduate from the National Fire Academy.

Cherika Chargualaf is the EMD Supervisor for the 911 Center under the Guam Fire Department. She has been with the 911 Center for sixteen-and-a-half years and despite being stressful, it's a job she thoroughly enjoys. "Knowing that I'm helping the people and as a supervisor I'm helping to train and get the other dispatchers and call takers to the point where they can help the people," she told KUAM News.

Recently, Cherika was afforded the opportunity to attend the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland. "It was Administration of Public Assistance for Community Recovery. It pretty much helps the Guam Fire Department, to in our instructor's exact words, not leave that free money on the table when there's recovery from a storm or any other type of disaster," she said.

The objective of the six-day course was to familiarize students with the FEMA Public Assistance Grant Program. The program provides assistance to states, local governments, U.S. territories, and certain private non-profit organizations during times of hardship resulting from major disasters.

"It was a pretty intense course. We started on a Sunday and it was 8 to 5. Every night we had homework, we had a final project that was due on the second to the last day and of course the final exam on the last day of class. It was a pretty demanding, strenuous course," she explained.

She says the course was enlightening and informative, noting, "My take-back from it is that I'm going to help the fire department to push further and do all that we can to help our department recover from any disaster that we may encounter."

In addition, Cherika's special project was recognized as among the best in the class. "The president of the NFA was requesting for three of the best projects from the course to keep to use as their justification that the course was not only needed, wanted but necessary," she said.

And upon graduating with fellow GFD representative Battalion Chief Ron Castro, Cherika made history as the first CHamoru female to graduate from the academy.

"Chief Manibusan, who is the Fire Marshal for GFD, he whispered some stuff to me before I left to me telling me that it was very important for me to go, and that I do well and that I'd be the first of many things but I didn't realize the extent until he shared it on our management chat after everything was over and done with," said Chargualaf.

She is humbled and proud.

"I got to represent not only the Guam Fire Department, but to be a representative towards females in management positions, to be recognized as the first CHamoru female that was amazing to me," she said humbly.