Fairmont State may be a relatively small school on a national scale, but one program at the institution has proven that it can compete at the absolute highest level.
This year, the criminal justice program from FSU went to Florida to compete in various competition and came home with eight awards.
“Every year we attend the National Criminal Justice Honor Society Conference, and this year it was in Orlando,” explained Marshal Sherry, graduate student in criminal justice from Fairmont State. “We go and compete every year.”
Sherry explains that traditionally, FSU competes in only one competition, the crime scene.
“Since we’ve won that so often they asked us to put on the crime scene,” he said. “As the president I kind of took on the responsibility to find some other scholarships that we could win, and we competed in eight or nine different categories.”
Deanna Shields is the faculty advisor for the criminal justice program and has been for more than 30 years. She explains how despite not being able to compete in the crime scene competition, but the alternative was just fine.
“That was an honor,” Shields said. “Even though they didn’t get to bring back a first-place prize that was definitely an honor to be able to run that competition.
“We’ve won awards throughout the 30 years, but this was our biggest award-winning year ever.”
During the competition, Sherry explains that of the team’s eight awards, two of them were personal and six were team awards.
“Once we got down there, during the award ceremony, we won pretty much every category for scholarships that we competed in,” Sherry said.
He went on to explain that the two biggest awards that Fairmont State came home with were likely his own scholarship that he won, which was the Regina B. Shearn Graduate Scholarship, worth $1,650, and Ashley Webb being voted as national vice president for the National Criminal Justice Honor Society.
Other team awards that FSU brought back to Fairmont include accolades for STAR Chapter, the Yearbook Award, Human Trafficking Theme of the Year, Best Website, Outstanding Chapter Goals.
Individually, Brian Miller won an award for the CJ Knowledge Exam and Sherry received an attendance scholarship.
Overall, both Sherry and Shields are very happy with the hard work that they put in and the results that they achieved.
“We work all year-round,” Sherry said. “We started in the summer before we even started classes.
“We’ve been working above and beyond what normal college students do, trying to get everything together while doing our schoolwork.”
As Shields explains, the awards are nice, but the experience is greater than any hardware that they may bring home.
“It’s really just an extraordinary opportunity for students to attend this conference and meet professionals in the field,” she said. “They get to see and meet the academics who write their textbooks.
“They get to hear speakers who are experts in the field and they get to network with students from all over the country.”
After all is said and done, both Sherry and Shields spoke of one major point; FSU can hold its own with anybody.
“Considering how small of a town that we’re from and how small of a school we are, we’re going up against big schools,” Sherry said. “We’re going up against all these big schools and we’re sweeping the competition.
“It brings a good name to Fairmont State and West Virginia in general.”
“One thing I know for sure, even though Fairmont State is a relatively small institution, it doesn’t mean that our students can’t compete with students from anywhere in the country,” Shields said. “They’ve proven that. I’m more than proud.”
This story by Sean McNamara originally appeared in the Times West Virginian on March 13, 2015 and is posted here with his permission. Contact McNamara at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @SMcNamaraTWV.
About the photo:
Left to right, back row: Dedra Cobb, John McLaughlin, Amy Bess, Brian Miller, Marshal Sherry, Virgnia Marnic, Ashley Webb.
Left to right, front row: Deanna Shields, Kaitlyn Antolock, Amber Mann, Sarah Landis, Jade Angeline.
Kneeling: Logan Fletcher.