PVCC AJS Students Awarded AZ LEOS Scholarships

Monday, June 3, 2024
PVCC AJS Students Awarded AZ LEOS Scholarships

The Arizona Law Enforcement Outreach and Support (AZ LEOS) organization recently awarded scholarships to two standout Administration of Justice (AJS ) students from Paradise Valley Community College (PVCC). Pumas Kymora (KeKe) Sutherland and Brandon Smith were honored during a Battle of the Badges flag football game earlier this month at Mesa Community College (MCC), along with two emergency medical technician (EMT) students from Mesa Community College (MCC).

The event, which is held twice a year during the spring and fall, serves a dual purpose: raising funds to aid injured law enforcement officers and recognizing exceptional students committed to serving their communities. Amidst the spirited atmosphere of the game, Sutherland and Smith stood out for their dedication and academic prowess.

“Both Sutherland and Smith exemplify the qualities of integrity, compassion, and resilience that are essential in criminal justice. They represent the type of criminal justice practitioners needed today,” said Bootsie Martinez, AJS program director at PVCC.

“I am so grateful to receive a scholarship from such a lovely organization,” said Sutherland, adding she was thankful her professor shared the opportunity with her. “Every scholarship I receive is such a blessing and I am honored to receive this in the presence of those who protect our community.” Sutherland recently also won a medal in the SkillsUSA Region 2 competition, leading her to the state competition, where she took a silver medal in Criminal Justice.

“When I got the call that I actually won, it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time in my life,” said Smith. “I couldn’t have done this without Professor Martinez. She helped me push forward in accomplishing my goals. I'm now able to take summer school classes because of this scholarship.”

This year also marked a poignant moment with the introduction of the Vinny Gravelli Memorial Scholarship. Named in honor of the late New York Police Department sergeant and 9/11 hero, who became an inspiring college instructor after retirement from the police department, the scholarship serves as a tribute to his legacy of dedication to students. Scholarship applicants must be a member or supportive of the LGBTQ+ community in honor of Gravelli, who was unable to be open about his sexuality when serving with the NYPD in the 1980s.

MCC AJS student Natsuki Saballos Jr. was this year’s recipient of the inaugural Vinny Gravelli Memorial Scholarship. His achievement not only honors Gravelli's memory but also underscores the enduring impact of passionate educators in shaping the next generation of law enforcement professionals.

AZ LEOS was founded by Maricopa County Community College District Police Officer Jim Hill and his wife Cindy. Their commitment to supporting law enforcement officers and fostering community engagement through initiatives like the backpack program for school kids and Shop with a Cop exemplifies the spirit of service that defines the organization.

For more information on PVCC’s AJS program, visit our website or email bootsie.martinez@paradisevalley.edu