Gail Crutchfield, WSCC Communications and Marketing
WSCC MEDIA RELATIONS
Tianna Auston and Diana Moreno have a lot in common. Both are sophomores in Wallace State Community College’s Criminal Justice program. Both are the first in their families to go to college. Both have lived in the foster care system. Both work full time to help pay their way to college.
Both young women are also recipients of the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office Excellence in Criminal Justice Scholarships, each receiving $5,000 to put toward their education in the Fall, Spring and Summer Semesters at Wallace State. Sheriff Mike Rainey presented the scholarships to the women on Thursday.
The Special Project Fund from the annual Jimmy Arrington Memorial Rodeo, named after a longtime deputy sheriff and investigator, funded one of the scholarships. Rainey personally funded the other in memory of his mother, Shelby Rainey, who was once employed by Wallace State.
Rainey said providing a scholarship is something the office has wanted to do for years and has finally been able to do that using the Special Projects Fund. “We have the funds now to help and try to give back to the community,” Rainey said.
That fund paid for the scholarship presented to Auston. Rainey’s personal scholarship was awarded to Moreno. “After reading these two girls’ stories, I couldn’t pick only one of them,” Rainey said.
Auston and Moreno were appreciative and excited about their scholarships.
“I’m very, very happy to receive this scholarship,” said Moreno, of Cullman. “It’s going to make going to school a whole lot easier.” Not eligible for Pell Grants, Moreno works full time at Royal Technologies to help pay for her education. “This is a good change in a positive direction.”
Moreno said she’s known since was a little girl that she wanted to be in law enforcement. Her long-range goal is to work for the FBI and to help in cases with abused children.
“This scholarship means everything to me,” said Auston, of Crane Hill, who is self-employed mowing lawns. “This is the first scholarship I’ve ever received. I was overwhelmed when I got it. It will help me because I don’t usually have enough money to buy books and stuff. This year I can actually work out of my books rather than having to find [the information from other sources].”
A school resource officer at Cold Springs High School influenced Auston’s career decision. “He was my inspiration in being a police officer,” she said of Arvel Allison, who she said encouraged her to work for the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office. Her plans are to be a police officer, either here in Cullman County or in Birmingham.
As recipients of the scholarships, the students may be eligible for internships with the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office. “I’m so excited to intern,” Moreno said.
WSCC Criminal Justice Department Chair Bob Howell said he appreciates the Sheriff’s Office providing the scholarships to his students.
“Both of these young ladies are always in class, they always have questions, they are working hard to better themselves,” Howell said. “This opens a door that otherwise might not get open. It’s really a wonderful opportunity, and we appreciate it so much because they are part of our Wallace State family and you always want to help family.”