AMERICUS, Ga. (WALB) - Three POST-certified criminal justice technology students were awarded Smarr-Smith scholarships recently at South Georgia Technical College (SGTC).
Cedric Smith of Americus, Chandler Buchanan of Cuthbert, and David Rueda-Fierros of Americus were each selected to receive Smarr-Smith scholarships from the South Georgia Technical College Foundation.
The Smarr-Smith endowed scholarships at South Georgia Technical College were created in memory of fallen Americus Police Officer Nicholas Smarr and Georgia Southwestern State University Campus Safety Officer Jody Smith. The endowments were created by the Smarr-Smith Foundation, private individuals, and an anonymous donor. Both Smarr and Jody Smith attended the criminal justice program at South Georgia Technical College.
Cedric Smith is a veteran law enforcement officer with the Americus Police Department. He has been with them for 15 years and is a detective sergeant. He decided to return to South Georgia Technical College to earn his criminal justice associate of applied science degree.
“Cedric is a great student. I am very proud of him and I appreciate how hard he works,” said Teresa McCook, SGTC Americus criminal justice instructor. “He is exactly the type of student that this scholarship was meant to help.”
He had the highest GPA of all the Smarr-Smith Scholarship applicants. The 41-year-old made the decision to enroll at South Georgia Technical College and is very appreciative of the scholarship and the opportunities that it allows him to take advantage of.
“This scholarship will give me the assistance I need to continue my education and work towards getting a degree. I am very thankful for this opportunity,” he said, who got a jump start on his education because he received prior learning credit from his POST certification classes and training to use toward his associates degree in criminal justice.
Buchanan is employed by the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office as a deputy. The 25-year-old has four daughters and his goal is one day to become a DEA agent. He graduated from the SGTC Law Enforcement Academy in 2017 and has been with Randolph County since graduation.
“In order to become a DEA agent, I need a bachelor’s degree. This scholarship not only helps me toward that goal, but it also helps me show my children that anything is possible if you put in the time and effort. I want my children to have more than I had coming up, and I want them to understand that having an education is good. I am the first person in my family that has attended college and I want them to do the same thing,” said Buchanan.
The third recipient of the SGTC Foundation Smarr-Smith Scholarship is Rueda-Fierros. He is employed by the Americus Police Department and is also a 2017 graduate of the SGTC Law Enforcement Academy. He is currently a patrol officer.
“This is a great honor,” said Rueda-Fierros, who came to the United States as an immigrant many years ago. “I came into a country with a completely different culture and language. Through hard work and many challenges, I was able to graduate from high school. Years later, thanks to God, I was able to legalize my status and attend college. I am a graduate of Americus-Sumter High School, a pleasure shared with Nick and Jody.
“After the sad event that happened in Americus, I decided to become a police officer. As a law enforcement officer, I not only help the community but want to encourage Hispanic families that anything is possible if you have a dream. Receiving this scholarship means a lot to me and I know that as long as I put the badge on and go to work, I will honor Nick and Jody and continue to do what they both loved to do, serve and protect the community.”
South Georgia Technical College President Dr. John Watford thanked the Smarr and Smith families and others for their support of this scholarship.
“We all regret that this scholarship opportunity had to come at the expense of the lives of two outstanding South Georgia Technical College students and law enforcement officers,” said Watford. “Our hearts will continue to go out to the family and friends of Officers Smarr and Smith. But it is our prayer that this gift will assist other POST certified officers who wish to continue their education. We hope that the fine men and women who earn these scholarships will honor the memories of Officers Smith and Smarr through their service to our citizens and that the memory of Nick Smarr and Jody Smith will continue to live on through the lives of these scholarship recipients.”
Smarr and Jody Smith, both attended the South Georgia Technical College Criminal Justice Program. Smarr attained his associate of applied science degree in June 2011 and became a certified law enforcement officer in 2012. Jody Smith had attended South Georgia Tech in 2010 and had returned in 2016 to begin completing his criminal justice associate degree.
Sixteen Smarr-Smith scholarships have been awarded since the scholarships were endowed. Charles Kinnamon and Adam O’Neal were the first two scholarship recipients. King W. Mitchell, Antoinette L. Johnson and Emerson R. Lundy were the second three recipients. Dalton Lee Windham and Cora K. Baker were awarded the scholarships in December 2018. Brandon Glover, April Cosby, and Matthew Pearce were the Smarr-Smith scholars in 2019. Amneh Laursen, Chris Owens, and Monteze McCall were awarded scholarships earlier this year.
For more information about making a donation to the SGTC Foundation or endowing a scholarship at South Georgia Technical College, call (229) 931-2110 or email here. Contributions may also be mailed to the SGTC Foundation, P.O. Box 6102, Americus, GA. Additional donations can be added to the Smarr-Smith Scholarship fund and all donations will be recognized and shared with members of the Smith and Smarr families.