Haywood Community College Criminal Justice students recently won several academic achievement awards at the American Criminal Justice Association Lambda Alpha Epsilon 2011 Region V Conference. Competitors at the conference held in Atlanta, Georgia were from seven states and were from both two and four year colleges. HCC achieved the Top Academic Honor.

HCC team members competed in the lower division and placed in the following categories: Criminal Law- second place, Juvenile Justice- first and third place, Crime Scene Investigation- first place.

“I am very proud of the students,” says Barbara Wolfe, HCC Criminal Justice Program Manager and Lambda Eta Chi Chapter advisor. “It has been my goal for several years to get the students involved in this association. I have believed their involvement not only in community service, their education endeavors, but the interaction and stretching of their abilities within this Criminal Justice Association prepares them to have a better future. These opportunities will develop the students to be an asset to the criminal justice system.”

HCC Criminal Justice instructor and HCC Lambda Alpha Epsilon advisor Cassie Walls also competed in the Professional Division. She won the top Academic Honor, first place in Criminal Law, and first place in Police Management and Operation. 

Walls says competing in these competitions and participating in the conference reinforces what is learned in the classroom. “This association promotes professionalism in the criminal justice field. Competing builds confidence in the students. It is a fantastic opportunity for these students and a great networking opportunity for their future. It opens up the perspectives of all the different careers available in criminal justice. It’s a great accomplishment for them.”

This is the first semester students at HCC have joined Lambda Alpha Epsilon or participated in the conference. HCC’s chapter name is Lambda Eta Chi. Region V consists of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The association has several objectives, some of which are:  to promote professional, academic, and public awareness of criminal justice issues; to encourage the establishment and expansion of higher education and professional training in criminal justice; to provide a unified voice for professionals in, and students of, criminal justice; and to promote high standards of ethical conduct, professional training, and higher education within the criminal justice field. HCC’s criminal justice club and the newly formed Lambda Eta Chi Chapter of Lambda Alpha Epsilon are very active in community service.

According to Andrea McGaha, HCC Criminal Justice student and Lambda Eta Chi secretary, “Participating in this conference and bringing home these awards is a way to set an example for new students and.” McGaha plans to continue her education at a four-year school after finishing HCC. “Winning these awards shows that good things come from small colleges.”

For Brian Forrest, HCC Criminal Justice student and Lambda Eta Chi vice president, taking part in the conference was a way to apply the concepts learned in class. “The whole experience of working with other people in the criminal justice field was very beneficial. It was great exposure for career opportunities for the future.” Forrest came to HCC as a middle age student who owned a tire store. He has always been interested in criminal justice and decided to make a complete career change.   

HCC students were able to attend this conference through a combination of funds. Some of the funds were raised through students’ fundraising efforts within the community while another portion was supplied through an HCC Foundation mini-grant.  Students also contributed some of the expenses out of pocket. Students would like to thank everyone for their support.  The club also plans to attend the national conference in the spring.

For more information about HCC’s Criminal Justice program or Lambda Eta Chi Chapter of Lambda Alpha Epsilon, please contact Wolfe at 627-3615 or Walls at 627-4032.