Math, law enforcement student receives Burnside Scholar Award, scholarship

by BRANDI ORTIZ//Associate Editor


The Burnside Scholar Award was recently given to a South Plains College student.

Rachel Sarkis, a sophomore Math and Law Enforcement Technology major from Lubbock,  received a $1,000 scholarship from the Texas Community College Teachers Association.

In 2002, the TCCTA established the Burnside Scholar Award, an award named after the first executive director, Charles Burnside. This award is presented to one deserving student at the college of the current TCCTA president. This year, it was Professor Wayne Langehennig who got to select the recipient.

“I wanted to find someone who academically is doing very well,” says Langehennig, president of the TCCTA and a Spanish professor at the Reese Center campus at SPC. “Someone who has a hard work ethic, and who truly paints a picture of who we are as a community college.”

After asking around for recommendations on which student should receive the award, it was Sarkis’ name which would be brought up from fellow colleagues.

“Rachel has been such a trustworthy, hardworking, and exceptional person and math tutor for the past two years,” says Alan Worley, chairperson of Math and Engineering Department at SPC. “I couldn’t think of someone more deserving than she.”

Sarkis says her talent is math, but her passion is law enforcement. She is actively involved in the Law Enforcement Club, currently serving as vice president. She has recently been nominated to serve as president for the fall semester.

“My interest in law enforcement began when I took classes at Frenship High,” said Sarkis. “Since then, it has been more of a calling.”

Sarkis says she hopes to complete her associate’s degree in Law Enforcement Technology and become a certified peace officer. She also plans to complete her math requirements to transfer and complete her bachelor’s degree in mathematics.

“Mathematics takes a lot time and energy to do the homework, but the law enforcement academy is just the same,” Sarkis said. “Balancing the two is tough, but doable.”

Dr. Lance Scott, associate professor of law enforcement and technology and the chairperson of the Professional Services and Energy Department, says that Sarkis could go far with her career in law.

“I see Rachel, in the long run, as an investigator,” says Scott. “Possibly with the FBI, but definitely not just your typical street cop.”

Though the overall goal for Sarkis is to become a detective, if she plans to work federally or for the state, which requires a bachelor’s degree, she can use her mathematics degree to fill that requirement. But, Sarkis plans to stay local by applying to work at the Lubbock Police Department and working her way up.

“Short term, I want to kick in doors and get bad guys,” said Sarkis. “But if something was to ever go awry then, with my mathematics degree, I can have a wider range of opportunities than I would have if I majored in criminal justice.”

Sarkis says that she could not have followed her dreams without her professors.

“[SPC] has amazing professors,” says Sarkis. “They are very encouraging and helpful when it comes to figuring out what is the right thing to do.”


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