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FSA Awards Scholarships to Students Studying Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice

September 24, 2013

TALLAHASSEE, FLA (September 24, 2013) – The Florida Sheriffs Association, following in its annual tradition; has awarded scholarships to hardworking students studying for a career in law enforcement, corrections or another criminal justice field. These students look to follow in the footsteps of their parents, as they are also the sons and daughters of employees working full-time at one of Florida’s 67 Sheriffs’ Offices. To be considered for the scholarship, students submitted a five-page application and an essay (Do Facebook and other social media sites help or hurt the image of law enforcement officers and their efforts to combat crime, and how?). The applications and essays were reviewed by a committee of representatives from the Florida Sheriffs Association whose members selected the nine recipients. The 2013 recipients are:

• Hillary Eckstein –Ava Maria University
Hillary is the daughter of Capt. Joseph Eckstein from the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office and is completing her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.  She is also pursuing a commission as a second lieutenant in the Army and is the recipient of a four-year national Army scholarship.

• Stephanie Dominguez – Miami-Dade College
Stephanie is the daughter of Capt. Carlos Dominguez from Miami-Dade Sheriff’s Office, and plans to attend law school after completing her bachelor’s degree. She has been active in her school’s drama club, choir and student council. Stephanie has been involved with many fundraising efforts for officers who have sacrificed their lives in the line of duty.

• Donald Aponte – West Point
Donald is the son of Lt. Heriberto Aponte from the Miami-Dade Sheriff’s Office. Donald has received several academic achievements in addition to being a member of the National Honor Society and Law and Justice Club. In his free time Donald, coaches basketball and flag football at his local YMCA.

• Austin Sheffield – Santa Fe College
Austin is the son of Mike Sheffield, chief of staff for the Levy County Sheriff’s Office. Austin will be pursuing his bachelor’s degree in criminology. He is a member of the Beta Club, serves as vice president of Fellowship of Christian Athletes and played basketball for his high school.

• Brandon Senters – St. Johns River State College
Brandon is the son of Capt. David Senters from the Clay County Sheriff’s Office. While active in the National Honor Society and Beta Club, he also works part-time as a record specialist in the Clay County Sheriff’s Office. Brandon will be pursuing his bachelor’s degree in public service administration after receiving his associate’s degree in criminal justice technology.

• Tyler Harrelson – Florida State University
Tyler is the son of Capt. Steven Harrelson from the Leon County Sherriff’s Office. Tyler is currently a junior pursuing his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.  Tyler is involved with law enforcement through his part-time job with the crime scene unit at the Leon County Sheriff’s Office where he is a member of their Explorer Post.

• Joshua Cockream – Boston College
Joshua is the son of Capt. Kyle Cockream from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. In high school, he was a member of the National Honor Society, captain of the speech and debate team and drum major in the school marching band. Joshua was also involved with his community, volunteering for local events such as Relay for Life. After completing his bachelor’s degree, he would like to pursue his degree in corporate and international business law.

• Kristin Vara – Florida State University
Kristin is the daughter of Cheryl Vara, special projects coordinator for the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. Kristin is currently a junior studying criminal justice. She is a third-time recipient of this scholarship and continues to excel academically while being involved in intramural sports, becoming a resident assistant, and volunteering at the Florida Sheriffs Association. 

• Gregory Castelli – Florida State University
Gregory is the son of Deputy Christopher Castelli from the Clay County Sheriff’s Office. Gregory has served as a volunteer with the Police Athletic League and played both football and baseball at Ridgeview High School. He is the recipient of the Scholar Athlete Award and is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Gregory will be pursuing his bachelor’s degree in criminology.

• Rufino Gabriel – Florida Atlantic University
Rufino is the son of Deputy James Adles from the Hardee County Sheriff’s Office, and will pursue his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. While achieving academic merit, Rufino played football at Hardee Senior High School and served as captain during his senior year. He was also the recipient of the Luther Colbert Sportsmanship Award.

“FSA is pleased to continue its long-standing tradition of supporting the education of youth interested in law enforcement by awarding these scholarships,” said FSA Executive Director Steve Casey. “It is through these scholarships that FSA can help students develop into better educated and more productive members of our law enforcement community, helping to keep our state safe.”
Each student will receive a $1,000 scholarship. Funds for these scholarships are donated from the generous members of the Florida Sheriffs Association. FSA also provides a $1,000 scholarship which is given to the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches and awarded to a worthy student who is choosing a law enforcement or criminal justice career track.