Sheriff scholarship program open

Published 10:04 pm Friday, February 13, 2009

During the past 16 years, the Virginia Sheriff’s Scholarship Program has awarded 38 scholarships, totaling more than $20,000, to college students living in Suffolk.

This year, Sheriff Raleigh Isaacs is hoping to add to that number.

“It gives young people an opportunity,” Isaacs said. “It costs money to go to college and if you had an interest in criminal justice or law enforcement, this is a way you could possibly pick up a scholarship.”

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The program is made available through the Virginia Sheriffs’ Institute – a branch of the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association that was organized to help in training and educational programs and activities for the state.

The Institute sends annual mailings to businesses and individuals throughout the area to solicit memberships and donations. A portion of the money raised from these efforts is then returned to Suffolk by way of scholarships for students living here, majoring in criminal justice or law enforcement and attending an in-state school. The amount of the scholarship varies from year to year, because it depends how much money is collected on a statewide basis.

Isaacs instituted the program his first year as Sheriff and says he has been proud to see more than 30 Suffolk residents get money through it.

To apply for the scholarship, students not only have to meet the prerequisite qualifications, but they also have to complete an application process that asks each applicant to list academic, professional and extracurricular achievements and to write an essay reflecting their personal goals and ambitions.

After finishing the application, each applicant meets personally with Isaacs to talk about career and educational goals. Isaacs must send a letter of recommendation, along with the application, to the scholarship board, which then decides who will be selected.

The scholarship is renewable – meaning winners can apply each year they are in school.

“They can use the money to buy books or whatever they need,” Isaacs said. “And in a day when folks are cutting back, this is a good thing.”

Applications are available at the Sheriff’s office in the Mills E. Godwin Jr. Courts Building on N. Main Street Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Completed applications must be turned in by 5 p.m. April 17. Winners will be announced at the end of May, and the scholarship checks will be made payable to the applicant’s educational institution.