Lauren Gray graduated from the fire academy on Dec. 2, 2022, making her the first female African-American firefighter in Fishers. She found inspiration in her father, Alfred Gray, who has been a police officer for 32 years.
Growing up, Lauren Gray admired her father’s willingness to help the community. She looked up to his selflessness and realized she wanted to embody that as a lifelong commitment as well.
Alfred Gray said when his daughter told him she wanted to be a firefighter, he had mixed emotions.
“I was happy for her that she wanted to help out others, but as we know, it is a very dangerous career,” he said.
Alfred Gray said he is confident in his daughter’s intelligence and that she will take advantage of her training, which made him more comfortable about her becoming a firefighter.
Not only has Lauren Gray grown as a person but her father has also in how he views his daughter. Alfred Gray said he is inspired by his daughter’s work ethic and desire to be a public servant. He loves that she is always growing and continues to want to better herself.
“From the day that I set eyes on that little girl she just stole my heart, and it’s just been that way ever since,” he said.
Lauren Gray said originally, she wanted to be a police officer like her father, but after looking into it more and meeting firefighters, she realized that firefighting resonated more with her because it allowed her to help her community without having to enforce the law.
She said the authority aspect and enforcing the law on people wasn’t something that she wanted to do, but she still wanted to help the community.
Lauren Gray said her journey to becoming the first female African American firefighter in Fishers has been full of lessons.
“Firefighting teaches me to roll with the punches and to not let bad things keep me down,” she said.
One thing that stays constant is the love and influence of her father.
“Growing up with my father was amazing,” she said, smiling. “The role model that I had out of him was incredible.”
Lauren Gray said she’s excited about the history she’s made, which she hopes will help open doors for not only other minority women, but women in general.
“Even when those doors are open, it gives them the invitation to walk through,” she said. “Making these strides are necessary in every field there is.”
Lauren Gray loves the impact she has on her community.
“There’s been occasions where I walk in a home in my uniform and there’s a little girl there,” she said. “Just the look from the girl seeing one female in a group of all males means a lot.”
Lauren Gray wants to be an example to girls who are just like her. She wants to give back the influence her father had on her to others, and she wants to make a lifelong career out of helping others.
Contact intern Kamya Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @Kamya_Williamss.