Sheriff's Office Presents Scholarships to Virginia College Students

June 18, 2014

Sheriff Stacey Kincaid with Mina Shakib, Mariam Hanna, James Panagiotopoulos and Hannah Houghton

Fairfax County Sheriff Stacey A. Kincaid presented a $1,000 scholarship check to each of four college students who reside in the county. The award ceremony took place in the Historic Courthouse in Fairfax, Va. A fifth scholarship winner was unable to attend.

The scholarships are sponsored by the Virginia Sheriffs' Institute and reward students who are studying in the area of criminal justice at a Virginia college or university. Four of the students attend George Mason University in Fairfax, and one attends Radford University in Southwest Virginia.

Scholarship applicants from across Virginia must include a personal essay and a letter of recommendation from their county sheriff. "I spoke with each applicant before I wrote the letters of recommendation," said Kincaid. "What impressed me the most beyond the excellent grades and comprehensive areas of study were the activities in which these students participate. They are active on campus, hold part-time jobs and give their time and energy off-campus to make the world a better place than when they found it. I wish them tremendous success in their college careers and beyond."

The scholarship recipients from Fairfax County are:

Mina Shakib

Mina Shakib has completed her sophomore year at George Mason University and is majoring in Criminal Justice. Her overall GPA is a 3.9. She is a member of the GMU Muslim Student Association and the Afghan Student Association. Outside of school, she is active in Habitat for Humanity. One summer she traveled to a South Carolina town with a high poverty rate and helped build a community center for children to keep them busy and off the streets. She also holds a part-time job during the school year. Mina watches crime shows, researches criminal offenders and visits courtrooms during trials so she has become familiar with some of the responsibilities of law enforcement officers. "I love solving mysteries and figuring out how and why something happened the way it did," Mina said. "I look forward to developing strong foundations in analysis, theories and systems of justice, criminology and crime policy."

Jeffrey Stopinski

Jeffrey Stopinski has completed his junior year at George Mason University. He is studying Criminal Justice with a concentration in Homeland Security and a minor in Intelligence Analysis. "I have always had an interest in the criminal justice procedure," he said. An introductory course in criminology led him to take classes in constitutional law and the ethics of criminal justice. Jeffrey is a member of the Air Force ROTC and has been accepted to Project GO (Global Officers), a collaborative initiative that promotes critical language education, study abroad and intercultural dialogue opportunities for ROTC students. He is also a member of GMU's Intelligence Community Club. Outside of school, Jeffrey is active in his church and holds a part-time job year round.

Mariam Hanna

Mariam Hanna completed her sophomore year at George Mason University and is majoring in Criminal Justice with a minor in Middle East Studies and Arabic. She is fluent in both Arabic and Aramaic. Her overall GPA is a 4.0. Miriam is taking a heavy course load this summer and in the fall so that she can graduate from GMU a year early. She intends to get a head start in applying to become a police officer. “As long as I can remember, I have been interested in solving puzzles by looking at a problem from new viewpoints," she said. "I can also help others gain peace of mind by giving them the answers they need, whether in finding a missing child or solving a long-forgotten crime." Outside of school, Miriam has been a volunteer stream monitor for the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District. She is also creator and president of the Leo's club, part of the International Lions organization, which collects, cleans and processes used/unwanted glasses and hearing aids and sends them to countries in need. In addition, Miriam holds a part-time job year round.

James Panagiotopoulos

James Panagiotopoulos completed his freshman year at George Mason University and is majoring in Criminology, Law and Society with a minor in Intelligence Analysis. His father and grandfather are retired police officers. "I believe law enforcement is a profession of honor and distinction," he said. In high school, he completed the Fairfax County Explorers Program, where young people learn about law enforcement, serve the community, increase their self-confidence and develop skills in leadership and public speaking. James is an accomplished cycler and lacrosse player. He works full-time in the summer to help defray the cost of college.

Hannah Houghton

Hannah Houghton completed her sophomore year at Radford University and is majoring in criminal justice with a minor in forensic studies. She intends to pursue a master's degree in criminal justice or earn a certificate in crime analysis. She would like to become an investigator with a law enforcement agency. Her interest in law enforcement stems, in part, from the shootings at Virginia Tech. Hannah is an intern for the Department of Homeland Security, an operations assistant for Radford’s Department of Student Activities and a member of the Radford Outdoors Club. "It is a balancing act, for sure," Hannah said. "Proper planning is key." Prior to college, she volunteered as a 4-H residential camp counselor and participated in Relay for Life.

The Sheriff’s Office announces the scholarship program each year in late January. For more information before January, please search online for Virginia Sheriffs' Institute, or email the Sheriff's Office.

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