Thursday, September 7, 2017

UIS student awarded police scholarship to pursue criminal justice dreams

University of Illinois Springfield student Graciela Popoca, from Chicago, has been awarded a $2,000 Law Enforcement Education Program (LEEP) Dream Scholarship.

Popoca is a freshman at UIS pursuing a degree in criminology and criminal justice.

She said she chose UIS because she liked the smaller class size and opportunity to interact more with her professors.

Popoca is also a member of the Leadership for Life team and cannot wait to become involved in the community.

“I think what appealed to me from the campus was the number of clubs/organizations I could join, once I settled in,” she said. “I’m looking forward to volunteering in many organizations and hopefully getting a job on campus.”

As a student at Thomas Kelly High School, Popoca attended the Chicago Police and Firefighter Training Academy and served as an intern with the Englewood Police Department.

“The program helped me develop confidence, leadership and responsibility,” she said. “I plan to become a detective,” Popoca added that she wants to focus on abuse cases. “Everything I went through motivated me to pursue a career that will allow me to help women who are going through physical and mental abuse in their marriages.”

Popoca is one of 27 students nationwide to earn the LEEP scholarship, which encourages their pursuit of law enforcement/public safety careers.

“The LEEP scholarship helped me pay for my tuition at UIS. Without the scholarship it would have been difficult for me to attend a school far away from home,” said Popoca, who also received Key Club, Monterrey Security and Logan Scholarships.

“Once I get my bachelor’s degree and become a police officer, I will make a difference in the world,” she said.

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