2016 LEEP Dream Scholars
LEEP awards scholarships to record number of students nationally
— By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor
TROY, MI — This year, a record number of top students interested in public safety careers will receive $1,000 college scholarships to encourage their pursuit of law enforcement/public safety careers by the professional public safety officers of the Law Enforcement Education Program (LEEP). Twenty-two scholars, including repeat winners Ryan Ferguson and Austin Lynema of Michigan, New York resident Philip Grella, Evan Guin of Tennessee, and Lena Illig of Alaska received awards.
In its 12th year, LEEP has awarded some $162,000 in Dream scholarships to students showing a demonstrated interest in public service/law enforcement careers. The non-profit public safety group’s scholarship program is made possible by a growing list of national supporters. In all, seven Michigan students and students from 14 other states received 2016 LEEP Dream Scholarships totaling $22,000:
Mason Averill, of Grant, MI. The Ravenna High School graduate and Walker Police Explorer completed Michigan State Trooper Academy, the Criminal Justice Program at Muskegon Area Career Tech Center and Muskegon Citizen’s Police Academy. He was in marching band and received All Academic Soccer, Football and Track honors. The Varsity Soccer Team Captain was awarded Most Valuable Player, All District, All Region, All Conference and All State Honorable Mention. The National Honor Society member was Most Improved Player for Varsity Track. He is using his $1,000 LEEP grant to pursue a degree in Criminal Justice at Muskegon Community College. He plans to attend Michigan State Trooper Academy or transfer to Ferris State University to complete a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice.
Blake Erickson, of Roscommon, MI, is a Roscommon High graduate. He participated in Gerrish Township Police Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), American Legion State Police Training Program, Boys State Citizenship Training Program, Roscommon County Youth Advisory Council (YAC), and Michigan State Police Trooper Camp. He was a Roscommon Little League Umpire and LINK mentor for children with Autism. He received certificates for Criminal Justice knowledge and outstanding academics; a Perfect Attendance and Academic Excellence Awards for Public Safety/Protective Services Program. He will use his $1,000 LEEP grant to study Criminal Justice at Lake Superior State University and plans to become a State Trooper or attend law school.
Ryan Ferguson, of Battle Creek, MI, is using his second $1,000 LEEP grant to study Criminal Justice at Kellogg Community College. The stepson of Battle Creek Police Sgt. Jim Martens attended Michigan State Police Kiwanis Club Career Law Enforcement Academy, Law Enforcement Orientation Program and received a Letter of Commendation from Battle Creek PD for assisting in a fatal car crash. He volunteered with Battle Creek PD Emergency Response Team, Hero Day and Trunk or Treat; summer youth basketball; and Notre Dame religious retreat. He was on Pennfield High Varsity Football and Basketball teams, All City Football Team, and received honorable mention for All Conference Football Team. He plans to become a Battle Creek Police Officer.
Victoria Gunst, of Ira, MI. A graduate of Anchor Bay High School, she participated in an early college internship with the City of New Baltimore and Warren PD Forensics Department. She attended four autopsies, recreated a crime scene on computer, bagged and documented evidence and learned about domestic crimes. She was active in Wind Ensemble and Squad Leader in Marching Band. She received an All-Academic Award, Sportsmanship Award for track & field, and a Superior rating from the International Federation of Music for piano playing. She volunteers at a long-term care facility and plans to use her $1,000 LEEP grant to pursue a Criminal Forensic Biochemistry degree at Northern Michigan University.
Jacob King, of Sterling Heights, MI, wants to become a third generation police officer. His father and grandfather were employed with Fraser Police and now his dad, Mark King, is a Van Buren Officer. He also received $14,000 in scholarships for his baseball skills and excellent grades and is highly regarded by his neighbors, who employed him. He was Class Vice President, Pep Club Chairman, Baseball Team Captain and participated in basketball and various high school and church musical groups. He went on a mission trip, teaching Vacation Bible School in Connecticut. is pursuing an associate’s degree in Fire Science from Volunteer State Community College. a Criminal Justice degree at Spring Arbor University.
Austin Lynema, of Zeeland, MI, is studying Criminal Justice at Grand Valley State University. A certified EMT, he is Commander of Grand Rapids Police Explorer Post #1871 and a Holland Public Safety Cadet. He was awarded his second $1,000 LEEP grant. The former Walker Police Explorer completed Michigan State Police Student Trooper Academy. He received a Holland Junior Police Academy Instructor’s Award and Excellence in Achievement for Careerline Tech Center EMS program. The former President of Health Occupation Students of America plans to become a Police Officer and later a Federal Agent.
Jenna Klokkert, of Fennville, MI, graduated with a 3.9 GPA at Hamilton High School. She completed Public Safety and Security Services classes at Careerline Tech Center and received Academic awards for her high GPA and class performance. She participated in high school basketball and is described as a classroom leader and has worked several jobs to help support herself. She plans to use her $1,000 grant to pursue a degree in Criminal Justice at Grand Rapids Community College. Her career goal is to become a CSC Detective or Victim’s Advocate.
Lena Illig, of Anchorage, AK, was awarded her fifth LEEP grant. A former University of Alaska (UAA) Army ROTC cadet, she is active in UAA Emerging Leaders Program, organizing justice events on campus. She works at Aviation Medical Services of Alaska and Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest. A volunteer with Anchorage Police Search and Rescue Team and a rape crisis hotline, she completed Anchorage Police Citizens Academy and graduated Alaska Military Youth Academy. She participated in police ride-alongs and served as an underage buyer for Alcohol Beverage Control Board in Anchorage. The Ambassador of the National Guard Youth Foundation, Illig is using her LEEP Grant to pursue a Criminal Justice degree at the (UAA). She plans to work her way up to the U.S. Marshals or FBI.
Steven Carlton of Cordova, AL, was Treasurer of Cordova High Student Government Association and High School Football Team Escort and Security through Cordova Police. He was hired as a part-time Dispatcher and Jailer with Cordova Police, helped implement Cordova Police Explorer program, and volunteered with Walker County Marine and Water Rescue. He was Cordova Police Explorer of the Year 2015 and completed several law enforcement certifications. He was in Beta Club, Future Business Leaders of America, Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, Alabama High School Ambassador, and was dual enrolled. He volunteered over 6,000 hours from 2010 to 2015 in Jasper Police Explorers, serving as Sergeant, Lieutenant and Captain. He is using his LEEP Dream Scholarship to pursue a Criminal Justice degree at University of North Alabama and plans to become a Police Officer.
Kyle Hartsuck, of Oro Valley, AZ, graduated with a 3.15 GPA from Canyon Del Oro High School. With over 515 volunteer hours through participation in with Oro Valley Police Explorer Post, he received The President’s Volunteer Service Award. He is a Lieutenant with Oro Valley Police Explorer Post, which he has been a member of for four years. He was a teacher’s assistant in his former English class and has been taking guitar lessons for years and completing an Advanced Guitar class. He is using his LEEP Grant to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Teaching at University of Arizona.
Erin Daly of Seymour, CT, graduated Platt Technical High School with a 3.3 GPA. She is a member of the Hotchkiss Hose Fire Department and Seymour Ambulance Association volunteer. She plans to be a volunteer EMT while attending college and playing on the girls’ soccer team. She is a Skills USA Competitor and volunteers at Pumpkin Festival, Demartino’s Farm, Platt Tech Car Show, and as Team Captain for Relay for Life. Daly was Class of 2016 President and Event Coordinator, Student Council member, Girls Soccer Team Captain; Student of the Month for Electrical and Academics; New Haven Register Athlete of the Week; and received several soccer honors and is school record holder in all time soccer goals. She played basketball, softball and track. She plans to use her LEEP grant to pursue a Criminal Justice/Police Science degree at Albertus Magnus College and become a SWAT Team member.
Delaney Henderson of Satellite Beach, FL, graduated Eastern Florida State College with a 4.0 GPA and Associates in Arts degree. She is co-founder of SafeBAE and Ambassador and Speaker at PAVE (Promoting Awareness/Victim Empowerment), both sexual violence prevention organizations. She launched an educational video and print series for high schools; conducted a survivor’s summit on students’ rights; and is working with the White House’s ‘It’s On Us Campaign’ to prevent sexual violence. She received a 2015 Citizen of Courage Award. She was on cheerleading squad, recreational soccer team, Christian Service Club, Environmental Service Club and the softball team. She held community fundraisers for a children’s cancer organization and was social chair of her sorority. She plans to use her LEEP Grant to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice at Florida Atlantic University.
Faruq Lawal of Cartersville, GA, earned a 3.4 GPA at Georgia Highlands College and a Criminal Justice degree. He is looking for work as a security guard and his career goal is to become an Immigration Lawyer. He’s worked as a certified nursing assistant at Amicus Homecare since 2013, earning Best Employee of the Month three times. He is a Foundation Camp Counselor, Fellowship Christian Athletes leader, Habitat for Humanity volunteer, and a Tour Guide for Grove Park Elementary. He won the Spirit Award as Brother 2 Brother Vice President at Georgia Highlands. He was Football Team Captain, a Spanish Club member, Track Leader and on the basketball team. In college, he was Debate Group Leader, football team mascot, and earned a Who’s Who in American Junior Colleges Award. He plans to use his LEEP grant to pursue a degree in Public Policy and Management at Kennesaw State University.
Austin Leggett, of Ringwood, IL, graduated Richmond-Burton Community High School with a 3.64 GPA. He completed Introduction to Fire Science, Emergency Medical Responder and EMT-B courses. The Boy Scout Senior Patrol Leader is working on achieving Eagle Scout; has been Captain of Fire Explorer Post 1800 since 2015; and was in Venture Crew 190. A member of Science Club, Marching Band and Concert Band, he received the President’s Award for Educational Excellence, Student Ambassador and Student of the Quarter for Fire Fighting, Perfect Attendance, Principal’s Award of Excellence, and certificates in: FEMA Introduction to Incident Command and FEMA Introduction to National Incident Management. He plans to use his LEEP grant to pursue a Fire Science degree at McHenry County College.
Samantha Newby, of Charlestown, IN, graduated Jefferson High School with a 4.71 GPA. She completed Criminal Justice Investigation Program at Prosser Career Education Center. She was a member of Colorguard, Winterguard, National Technical Honor Society, and Skills USA, placing third for CSI in 2015 and 2016 and serving as the Team photographer. She volunteered at Grand Nationals – Bands of America, Parkview Concession Stands and field day activities at Riverside Elementary. She plans to use her LEEP grant to pursue a Criminal Justice degree at Indiana University Southeast.
Revel Lewis IV of Frankfort, KY, graduated Walnut Hill Christian Academy with a 3.82 GPA. A Frankfort Law Enforcement Explorer, Lewis was District 6 Kentucky Junior Historical Society Rep., Eagle with four Palms, Junior Assistant Scoutmaster with Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and Rolling Hills Bible Junior Camp Counselor. He received National Ranking in Competitive Powerlifting; was in Churches of Christ for Scouting; and earned awards for: BSA Arrow of Light and Order of the Arrow; preaching; debate; Explorers first place in Bomb Threat and Active Shooter, Unknown Call, High Risk Warrant and High Risk Stop; Outstanding Kentuckian, Kentucky Admiral, and Kentucky Colonel. He volunteered with Reforest Frankfort. He plans to pursue a degree in Criminal Justice and Bible studies at Ohio Valley University.
Erik Vokoun, of LaGrange, KY, has a 3.8 GPA at Ohio State and graduated Saint Xavier High School with a 4.0 GPA. He helped start a Law Enforcement Club, attended a Career Job Shadow Day at the FBI field office, was a Kentucky Governor’s Scholar, President of International Thespian Society and Saint Joseph of Arimathea Society, Peer Leader, and a tutor. He received Rotary Club Unsung Hero Award, Principal’s List all four years, and was involved in Leadership Committee of Ryken Service Club, Chemistry Club, band and orchestra. He is Ritual Chairman and Refounding Father for Beta Theta Pi Fraternity; Lector, Retreat Leader and Eucharist Minister St. Thomas More Newman Center; and in OSU Honors and Scholars Program. He was a Peer Mentor, member of Ohio State Service Society and Manager of Development for a homeless program. He plans to use his LEEP grant to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Biology with specialization in Forensic Science and a minor in Security and Intelligence.
Alexis Hower, of Grand Island, NE, graduated Nebraska Christian High School with a 4.28 GPA. The former American Legion Junior Law Cadet is in Nebraska Army National Guard. She was an undercover underage tobacco and alcohol buyer and went on police ride-alongs. She was Yearbook Editor, Student Council Vice-President, Volleyball Team Co-Captain and Junior Class Vice President. An Early College student, she received Highest Honors for a minimum 4.16 GPA. She was Academic All State in Volleyball, a Letter winner in volleyball, track and basketball, a member of National Honor Society and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She was a YMCA Youth Volleyball Referee, Sunday School Teacher and Worship Band member at Iglesia El Shaddai. She plans to use her LEEP grant to pursue a Criminal Justice degree at University of Nebraska-Kearney and become a Law Enforcement Officer.
Philip Grella, of Glen Cove, NY, was awarded his second LEEP grant. The Glen Cove High graduate plans to become a fourth generation firefighter. In high school, he served on the Student Athlete Leadership Team (SALT), Ski Club, varsity football, varsity lacrosse, Ballistix Travel Lacrosse, All Conference lacrosse and All Academic lacrosse. He played on Team Virtue during the Sgt. Major Dan Daly Cup Lacrosse Game. He volunteers with the Glen Cove Police Athletic Lacrosse League and has taught lacrosse to elementary school students and seventh and eight grade middle school lacrosse teams. He is pursuing a Criminal Justice bachelor’s degree at New York Institute of Technology.
Evan Guin of Mt. Juliet, TN, was awarded his second LEEP grant. Guin is an EMT at St. Thomas Midtown Hospital Emergency Room in Nashville. Prior to that, he worked as an Advanced EMT at Lifecare EMS in Mt. Juliet. He is also a Mt. Juliet Volunteer Fire Fighter, receiving a certificate in Basic Firefighting, Firefighting I Live Burn and Introduction to Fire and Emergency Services. He graduated from Mt. Juliet Fire Explorer program; was a member of HOSA-Future Health Professionals from 2009-2014; and was on his high school wrestling team from 2005-2014, finishing high 4th in his AAU wrestling weight class. He is using his LEEP grant to pursue a Fire Science degree at Volunteer State Community College.
Rankin DeRonde of Bronte, TX, is a Bronte High School graduate who works with Conservation Fire Team. He earned honors with Future Farmers of America (FFA) in Wildlife ID and Greenhand. He received the 2016 Outstanding Young Steward Award and Bronte Community Scholarship. He is a local cleanup program, City of Bronte Community Baseball Assistant Coach, and Special Olympics volunteer. He was Class President four years, Student Council Class Representative, Varsity Football Team Captain and 2nd Team All District. He was in basketball, band, Project Celebration Class Representative and State Officer for Teens in the Driver Seat. He plans to use his LEEP grant to pursue a Fire Ecology & Management degree at University of Idaho and become a Wildland Firefighter and Captain.
Michaela MacDonald of Watertown, WI, graduated with a 3.96 GPA from Crestview Christian Academy (Home school) where she was dual-enrolled. She was a finalist in the National Merit Scholarship Program. Her school activities include two high school piano competitions, four years of piano ensemble, two years of Tae Kwon Do, achieving orange belt ranking; and two years of archery. She is a member of Watertown Community Band, choir, orchestra and children’s ministries. She volunteers at Bethesda Thrift Store; works as a gardener at a local produce farm; janitor at church; and an office assistant for Camp of Champs non-profit wrestling camp. She plans to use her LEEP grant to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Business Management with a minor in Criminal Justice and Spanish at Maranatha Baptist University. Her career goal is to be a Police or Parole Officer.
To view published articles on the 2016 LEEP Dream Scholarship winners, click on the links below: