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2017 LEEP Dream Scholars

LEEP awards Michigan, national ‘Dream’ Scholars

— By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor

TROY, MI — Law Enforcement Education Program (LEEP) Dream Scholarships doubled to $2,000 each this year and a record number of top students interested in public safety careers will receive the college scholarships to encourage their pursuit of law enforcement/public safety careers. The professional public safety officers of LEEP awarded 27 scholars, including repeat winners: Mason Deible, Bradley Duck, Jr., Meleigha Herington and Austin Lynema of Michigan; Kentucky resident Tyler Madden; Evan Guin of Tennessee; and Michaela McDonald of Wisconsin.

In its 13th year, LEEP has awarded some $216,000 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. Eight Michigan students and students from 15 other states received 2017 LEEP Dream Scholarships totaling $54,000:

By Dave Millar, Photographic Impressions North
2017 LEEP Dream Scholars Mason Deible, Austin Lynema, Caleb Fort and Meleigha Herington of Michigan were awarded at the POLC/GELC conference in Traverse City Sept. 22.

Christian Campbell, of Saint Joseph, MI, is a Southwestern Michigan College student, Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Explorer Captain and 2010 Explorer of the Year. He volunteers at Blue Roof Church and Street Outreach Team. He worked for Medic One Ambulance and in loss prevention at JCPenney. In the top 10 percent for crisis negotiation at National Law Enforcement Exploring Conference, he completed three St. Louis Law Enforcement Explorer Association Training Academies. He is pursuing a Criminal Justice degree and plans to attend Kellogg Community College Police Academy.

Mason Deible, of Grant, MI is a Muskegon Community College student. He was a Metro Law Enforcement Explorer and completed: Criminal Justice Program at Muskegon Area Career Tech Center; Muskegon Citizen’s Police Academy; and Michigan State Trooper Academy. He received All Academic Soccer, Football and Track honors. The Varsity Soccer Team Captain was awarded MVP, All District, All Region and All Conference. He is using his second LEEP grant to pursue an associate’s degree in Criminal Justice and plans to attend Michigan State Trooper Academy to become a Police Officer.


Bradley Duck, Jr., of Battle Creek, MI. A Grand Valley State University student, he was awarded his third LEEP Dream Scholarship. He is a member of Grand Valley State Men’s Lacrosse Club. He was dual-enrolled in college while in high school. A Ski Club member, he was on the football, lacrosse, wrestling, and baseball teams and received an Academic Letter. He volunteers with the Det. Lavern Brann Memorial Golf Outing and Pennfield Rocket Football Association. He is pursuing a Criminal Justice degree and plans to become a police officer like his father, a Battle Creek Police Department veteran.

Caleb Fort, of Vicksburg, MI, graduated Vicksburg High School with a 3.8 GPA. He was Platoon Leader, Sheriff, Top 5 Percent Academically, and set a class record for MCOLES shuttle run in his law enforcement class. A Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety intern and Student Senator, he received an Outstanding Senior Award; Academic and Scholar-Athlete Awards; and volunteered 150 hours. Captain of the JV and Varsity Lacrosse teams and Varsity Tennis team, he received Honorable Mention All Conference in tennis and a Cross Country Varsity Letter. He is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Grand Valley State University and plans to seek a master’s degree in Forensic Psychology.

Meleigha Herington, of St. Charles, Mich., is a Ferris State University student with a 3.85 GPA who graduated Delta College with an associate’s degree in Corrections. She received her third LEEP Dream Scholarship. She job shadowed at Saginaw County Jail, Juvenile Detention Center and Probation Office and works as an Emergency Service and Security Officer at Dow Chemical. A Criminal Justice Program Top Scholar, she was Law Enforcement Advisory Committee Junior Member at Saginaw Career Complex, attended Michigan State Police Youth Leadership Academy and Career Academy. She is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and plans to work as a Parole or Probation Officer.

Austin Lynema, of Zeeland, MI, who is studying Criminal Justice at Grand Valley State University, was awarded his third LEEP grant. A certified EMT, he is Commander of Grand Rapids Police Explorers, earning 2016 Explorer of the Year, State Team Award and Firearms Expert Award. The Holland Public Safety Cadet and undercover decoy for Michigan Liquor Control Commission, was a Walker Police Explorer; completed Michigan State Police Student Trooper Academy; received Holland Junior Police Academy Instructor’s Award; President’s Award for Educational Excellence; and Excellence in Achievement for Careerline Tech Center EMS program. He plans to become a Police Officer.

Erik Rittenger, of Alto, MI, plans to follow in his father, Wyoming Police Detective Scott Rittenger’s footsteps. The Caledonia High School graduate was on freshman, JV and Varsity Football, an All-State Wrestler and a four-year Future Farmers of America (FFA) member with a State Farmer degree. He was Kent County 4-H Club Vice President, responsible for mentoring younger members. He plans to use his LEEP grant at Grand Rapids Community College to obtain an associate’s degree in Criminal Justice and will seek his bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice at Grand Valley State University.


Marybeth Gormley, of Attica, MI, graduated North Branch High School with a 4.01 GPA. She was Class President, Student Council Corresponding Secretary, Women’s Cross Country Captain, Band Letter Club President and Marching Band Section Leader. She was active in Jazz Band, Drama Club, Quiz Bowl, and National Honor Society. She earned a Cross Country Varsity Award and hosted dinners and fundraisers for the homeless through Trinity United Methodist Church Youth Group. She plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice at Oakland University. She wants to work for the FBI.

Caitlin Cardenas, of Peoria, AZ, is a Glendale Community College student. The Peoria High School graduate was a Peoria Police Explorer for over two years until school, work, and rehab from an ACL tear limited her ability to participate. She was Varsity Soccer Captain, Yearbook Editor, Yearbook Sports Editor, and Sereno Soccer Club Coach. She’s described as a leader who motivates people to accomplish tasks by Peoria Police Officer Bryan Rauzan, the School Resource Officer. She is using her LEEP grant to pursue a Political Science degree and plans to work as a Detective or in the Intelligence field.

Nautika Harris, of Texarkana, AR, graduated Arkansas Senior High School, taking Criminal Justice classes. She was Skills USA Vice President, Distributive Education Club of America Secretary, on the women’s basketball team and Future Business Leaders of America. She volunteered with Special Olympics and Randy Sams Homeless Shelter. Her high school Criminal Justice Instructor LaRhonda Hamilton noticed her leadership skills, integrity, independence and perseverance. She plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Southern Arkansas University and wants to become a Homicide Detective.


Jennifer Hong of San Gabriel, CA, is a University of Florida student and U.S. Navy veteran. At Sunny Hills High School, she was French Club Prime Minister and on the volleyball and cross country teams. She was Make-A-Wish Foundation Vice President, Grace Ministries Assistant Youth Pastor and Navy Junior Enlisted President. She received a Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal for 500 hours of service; Naval Hospital Patient Safety Program Award; Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal; Joint Service Achievement Medal; and Flag Letter of Commendation for instructing personnel and organizing 17 Navy Hospital command events. She is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Fire and Emergency Services.

Jose Ruiz of Mendota, CA, is a Mendota High School graduate. He was Mendota Police Explorers Sergeant, participating in ride-alongs, National Night Out Event Staff, Warm Hearts, Warm Hands Winter Clothing Drive Organizer and Parade Traffic Director. A Cross Country team member, he was in Math Engineering Science Achievement program; Adventure Club; Future Farmers of America; Servant Leadership Academy; and Lend-A-Hand Community Service Club Event Organizer. He plans to pursue a Criminology degree at California State University – Fresno and become a Police Officer and a Sheriff.

Yeraldi Morales, of Elgin, IL, graduated Larkin High School and was Elgin Police Department Law Enforcement Explorer Post Secretary, with 800 hours of community service. She competed at Illinois State Law Enforcement Explorer Conference and National Law Enforcement Explorer Conference. She was on the JV soccer team, Yearbook Club and Editor-in-Chief for the Yearbook; and a Royal Ambassador, helping with Freshmen Orientation and distributing school paperwork. She plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Forensic Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice at Harper College and become a Police Officer.

Graciela Popoca, of Chicago, IL, graduated with a 3.3 GPA from Thomas Kelly High School. She completed Chicago Police and Firefighter Training Academy and was an Englewood Police Department intern. She participated in College Possible, a college preparation program; Key Club; Spanish National Honors Society; Spanish Club; and Yearbook Club. She volunteered with Casa Catalina Toy Drive, Hot Chocolate Run, Trick or Treat for UNICEF, and a donation drive for underprivileged children. She plans to pursue a Criminology degree at University of Illinois, become a Police Officer and later a Detective.

Tyler Madden, of Louisville, KY, is an Eastern Kentucky University student with a 3.6 GPA, where he’s been on the Dean’s List and President’s List. A graduate of Pleasure Ridge Park High School, he was Varsity Football Team Captain and received awards for: Defensive Player of the Year, Defensive Lineman of the Year, and Greater Louisville Football Coaches Association All-District Teams. He helped collect clothing and held yard sales to raise money for the needy and delivered items to the families. He is using his second LEEP grant to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Occupational Safety minoring in Criminal Justice.

Brennan Blackstone, of Presque Isle, ME, is a graduate of Presque Isle High School, Caribou Technology Center Criminal Justice Program and participated in ride-alongs. The Junior Class Vice President volunteered with: Camp Nomacca doing grounds work and The Fuel Assistance Program cutting, stacking and delivering wood. He was a Maine GOP Field Intern and Deputy Field Organizer. He plans to obtain a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice with a certificate in Counter Terrorism at Husson University, become a Maine State Police Officer and work for Maine Drug Enforcement Agency.

Laura Rognerud, of Columbia Falls, MT, is a Concordia University student with a 4.0 GPA. She has an associate’s degree in Wildland Wildlife Law Enforcement, was a volunteer Montana State Parks Ranger and AmeriCorps Volunteer; and a Glacier-Waterton Hiking Club representative. She’s certified in Emergency Medical Responder, American Red Cross Basic Life Support CPR, and National Incident Management. She’s trained in: Self-Defense Tactical, Wilderness Act, Hazardous Chemicals and Mapping and Forest Field Skills. She was a 4H member and on high school gymnastics, swimming & diving teams. She is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and Police Science and plans to be a Park Ranger.

Michaela Lawrence, of Nehawka, NE, graduated Weeping Water High School with a 4.0 GPA. She was Nebraska Cass County Sheriff’s intern; Eastern Nebraska 4H Senior Camp Counselor; and member of Law Enforcement Explorer Post #336, Leadership Experience Opportunity Club and American Legion Auxiliary #237. She was National Honor Society Vice President; Future Business Leaders of America President, Vice President and Treasurer; 4H Weeping Water Treasurer, Vice President and Junior Leader; Student Council President; Skills USA President, Vice President; and Academic All State with two Varsity Letters. She plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice at University of Nebraska – Omaha.

Joseph Hill, of Fallon, NV, graduated Churchill County High School with a 3.86 GPA. He was a National Honor Society Officer; Babe Ruth Baseball League Umpire; and member of National Society of High School Scholars and Pep Club. He received awards for Honor Roll, Academic Excellence and Perfect Attendance in high school. He was a Student to Student mentor and volunteered with Out of Egypt food pantry and Fallon Animal Shelter. He plans to pursue an associate’s degree in EMT/Paramedics at Western Nevada Community College while seasonal woodland firefighting. Then he plans to seek an associate’s in Fire Protection at Truckee Meadows Community College and become a firefighter.

Brooke Pi, of Mount Vernon, NY, graduated with a 3.3 GPA from Kellenberg Memorial High School. She was involved in cheerleading, Drama Club, Speech & Debate Team, and yearbook. She is a member of Christians Reaching Out Spreading Spirituality, a YMCA Senior Counselor, and volunteered at Siena House, a single mothers shelter. Glen Cove Police Chief William Whitton described her as conscientious, level headed and extremely intelligent. She is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Criminology and Forensic Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, plans to go to law school and apply for the FBI.

Cali Martinez, of Patchogue, NY, graduated Patchogue-Medford High School with a 3.4 GPA. An EMT in Training at North Patchogue Fire Department, she was an Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFJROTC) Officer, Cadet Captain and Unarmed Drill Team Commander. She was a member of three honor societies; received JROTC Achievement Award and Outstanding Service Award for 189 hours of volunteering. She is pursing a bachelor’s degree in Para medicine at University of New Haven.


Kyle McCarthy, of West Babylon, NY, graduated West Babylon High School with a 4.0 GPA. He’s a Suffolk County Police Explorer and West Babylon Probationary Firefighter. He was with Civil Air Patrol for a year and West Babylon Fire Brigade in grades 6-12. He was an Eagle Scout, Boy Scouts Community Service coordinator, Junior Assistant Scoutmaster, Leave No Trace Trainer, Senior Patrol Leader and Cub Scout Den Chief. He was in five honor societies and volunteered 120 hours. An intern for Suffolk County Legislator Kevin J. McCaffrey, he’s pursuing a degree in Homeland Security at St. John’s University.

Jazmin Tucker, of Cleveland, OH, graduated Saint Joseph Academy with a 3.43 GPA. A first generation college student, she interned at Cuyahoga County Juvenile Justice Center. A Cleveland Foundation Sullivan Scholar from 2013-17, she was a North Coast All-Star Cheerleader. She was on Rock City Dance competitive hip hop team; in school plays; Ultimate Fan Club Spirit Member; and Unity Club Secretary, promoting diversity and human trafficking awareness. At St. Paul AME Church, she was a camp counselor, youth service worker and volunteered to help the needy and disabled. A classroom tutor, she plans to pursue a Criminal Justice degree at Miami University, go onto law school, and become a judge.


Evan Guin, of Mt. Juliet, TN, was awarded his third LEEP grant. Guin is an EMT in the St. Thomas Midtown Hospital ER in Nashville. The former Mt. Juliet Fire Explorer and Advanced EMT at Lifecare EMS is a Mt. Juliet Volunteer Firefighter. Guin, whose brother is a Mississippi firefighter, is certified in Basic Firefighting, Firefighting I Live Burn, Introduction to Fire and Emergency Services, CPR, AED and Pre-Hospital Trauma Life Support. He completed a 32-hour radiological monitoring class. He is pursuing a Fire Science associate’s degree at Volunteer State Community College. His plans to be an EMT and Firefighter and pursue a bachelor’s degree in Fire Science or Emergency Management.

Amanda Condon of Texarkana, TX, has a 4.0 GPA at Arkansas Tech University and an associate’s degree in General Studies. She has American Red Cross certifications in: CPR, Basic Life Skills, Shelter Fundamentals and Disaster Responder; and studied at FEMA Independent Study Institute. A Red Cross and Domestic Violence, Inc. volunteer, she interned at Miller County, Arkansas Office of Emergency Management. The Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society Vice President and Texarkana Ambassadors Student Council President founded a Nontraditional Student Alliance to help students find scholarship funding. She is pursuing an Emergency Administration Management degree and plans to work with FEMA.

Alexander Braatz of Anacortes, WA, graduated Skagit Valley College with a 3.76 GPA in General Studies focused on Criminal Justice. He was Vice President and Treasurer of Criminal Justice Club in college and an Eagle Scout, Boy Scouts Senior Patrol Leader and Assistant Senior Patrol Leader. The Anacortes High School (AHS) graduate earned Washington State Honors Award. He received a Varsity Letter in AHS Men’s Swim Team and was in Teen of the Month Club, AHS Men’s Golf Team, school plays and AHS Jazz Band Clarinet Section Leader. He volunteered with Boys & Girls Club and AHS Sports Food Drives. He plans to obtain a Criminal Justice degree in the Honors Program at Eastern Washington University.

Michaela MacDonald of Watertown, WI, has been given her second LEEP grant. The Maranatha Baptist University student has a 3.91 GPA. She’s a Watertown Police Explorer, National Merit Scholarship Program finalist, Tae Kwon Do orange belt; and Watertown Municipal Band flutist. She participated in piano ensemble and archery. She volunteered at Bethesda Thrift Store and in choir, orchestra and children’s ministries at Fellowship Baptist Church. She is pursuing a Business Management bachelor’s with a minor in Criminal Justice and Spanish. She plans to be a Police or Parole Officer.


To view published articles about the 2017 LEEP Dream Scholarship winners, click on the links below:

Alexander Braatz:

Christian Campbell:

SMC CJ student awarded $2,000 law enforcement scholarship

Caitlin Cardenas:

Mason Deible:

Marybeth Gormley:

Evan Guin:

EMT, firefighter awarded third scholarship

Nautika Harris:

Joseph Hill:

Western Nevada College to unveil new Industrial Technology Lab during open house

Michaela MacDonald:

Yeraldi Morales:

Brooke Pi:

Erik Rittenger:



© 2014 LEEP Law Enforcement Education Program

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