Students, leaders share stage at 2017 RLC Criminal Justice Scholarship Roundup

MT. VERNON, IL – The future of local law enforcement and some of their most ardent supporters gathered in Mt. Vernon this week for the sixth annual Rend Lake College Criminal Justice Program’s Roundup for Scholarships event.

Every year, the fundraiser brings in approximately $3,000 – enough for at least six students to receive financial help for classes in the criminal justice program. This year, the six students who received those scholarships were on hand to meet with members of local law enforcement who took the opportunity to share words of wisdom and encouragement.

 

Jefferson County State’s Attorney Sean Featherstun, center, presents a $1,000 donation to the Rend Lake College Criminal Justice Scholarship Fund. There to receive the gift was RLC Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, Ron Meet, left, and RLC President Terry Wilkerson, right.  (Reece Rutland, Rend Lake College public information)

Jefferson County State’s Attorney Sean Featherstun started the event off with a bang when he presented the criminal justice scholarship fund with a $1,000 donation out of the State’s Attorney’s Drug Forfeiture Fund.

“We seize money from drug dealers and hold on to it until we can find something positive to do with it. So, tonight we are here to donate this money to the scholarship fund. This is our opportunity to take money from the bad guys and use it to fight against them,” said Featherstun.

Dave Severin, State Representative for the 117th District, shared his message of gratitude and encouraged the students to remain local to help build Southern Illinois up.

“You are the future of Southern Illinois. I’m so glad to be here this evening to not only congratulate you but also to challenge you to go get an education or start your own business, have a family and stay in Southern Illinois,” Severin expressed.

Mt. Vernon Police Chief Chris Deichman echoed those thoughts.

“I would like to commend all these students on your chosen path. You’ve taken a great first step. Like Representative Severin made mention, I would challenge you as well to stay right here. Stay local. When we are recruiting, we are looking for folks who came from our local community colleges. What we have found in our department, the ones that have worked their way up and are now leaders in the department are local. So, when we are looking for new officers we like to look right here in our own back yard. Those people tend to love the community and stick around,” Deichman expressed.

Deichman also told the students that they were getting started with their careers by taking advantage of Rend Lake College. The chief shared his experience of being a RLC criminal justice student and how that helped him along the path that he is on today.

Jefferson County Sheriff Travis Allen, a fellow RLC criminal justice graduate, agreed wholeheartedly.
“Rend Lake gave me a great base where I was able to go on to graduate school. I believe all of that is because of the college and the Foundation, providing me the support and tools I needed. We have something in our backyard that we should take advantage of, and that’s Rend Lake College. You will not find a more intelligent and better prepared man than Ron Meek,” said Allen.

Two of the student scholarship recipients also took the opportunity to speak.

Six criminal justice students were on hand at the 2017 Roundup for Scholarships event. From left, Jordan Pike (McLeansboro), Alan Fox (Tamaroa), Anthony Amato (Ina), Jena Holden (Christopher), Associate Professor Ron Meek and Chelsey Bundy (Thompsonville). Not pictured was Amanda Queen (Reece Rutland – Rend Lake College Public Information.)

Chelsey Bundy (Thompsonville) has already begun working as a full-time officer with the Sesser Police Department while continuing her education. She hopes to use this opportunity to go on and earn her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

“I just want to thank everyone for coming tonight. It’s been an honor to receive a scholarship this year. It’s helped me out a lot. We all know college is expensive. Thank you professor Meek for being a great instructor and making class interesting and leading us all in the right direction,” Bundy stated.
Fellow scholarship recipient Alan Fox (Tamaroa) had nothing but praise for the program.

“I have personally learned more about criminal justice than I ever could have imagined over the past year and a half. Professor Meek is a great teacher. All of the teachers in the program are great and very knowledgeable,” Fox said.

Rend Lake College President Terry Wilkerson and Foundation CEO Kay Zibby-Damron also took a turn at the podium to thank the students for attending RLC and to encourage them to become quality representatives of the Criminal Justice Program as well as the college.

Ron Meek, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, closed the night by thanking all the supporters of the program and making two announcements of his own.

“I just want to take a moment to thank the college, local law enforcement and the community for their support of the program. Because, without them, we wouldn’t have the success that we enjoy. We are always trying to come up with new things to keep our program on the cutting edge of the field. This year, I’m pleased to announce that in January we are starting a new class called Law Enforcement Scenarios. It will be a whole semester of spending one class period learning about a topic and then the next class period of actually roleplaying that scenario out,” said Meek. “A lot of our local law enforcement has come to me and expressed a need for scenario-based training. So, we are working towards addressing that need.”

“Also, with the president of the college’s support and the cooperation of local law enforcement, we are about to get Illinois to move the part-time Police Academy from Carbondale to Rend Lake College Starting in January. So, we are going to be the site for Southern Illinois part-time, police training program.”

To learn more about RLC’s Criminal Justice program, visit www.rlc.edu/criminal-justice, or contact Meek at 618-437-5321, Ext. 1239 or meekr@rlc.edu.

 

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