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Austin Smith, Tiffeni Fox receive SGTC Michael Sangster Law Enforcement scholarship

From STAFF REPORTS

AMERICUS – Joseph Paul Austin Smith of Americus and Tiffeni Fox of Warner Robins were selected as the recipients of the South Georgia Technical College (SGTC) Lt. Michael Sangster Law Enforcement Academy endowed scholarship from the SGTC Law Enforcement Academy (LEA) Class of 16-02.
Both Smith and Fox earned their Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) certification from the SGTC Law Enforcement Academy.  Smith also received the Highest Academic Award for earning the highest academic marks in the 16-02 graduating class. He is the son of Ferrell and Terrie Smith of Americus.
“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.” That is a quote from Vince Lombardi that Austin Smith said he has always loved and that helped him excel in the SGTC Law Enforcement Academy.
“I would like to thank the Michael Sangster family. Receiving this scholarship will be a tremendous help in assisting me with the finances to further my college education which I plan to do. I had to quit my full-time job to attend the academy for the last four months. My family was very supportive and now this scholarship will help me continue my education and one day be able to work with the GBI,” said Smith. “I believe that education is the key to success.”
Tiffeni Fox also expressed her appreciation to the Sangster family for the scholarship.
“This scholarship will help with some of the expenses that I accumulated during my training. It is a financial blessing that has allowed me to achieve my goals. I knew at a young age that I wanted to pursue a law enforcement career. Serving others and our community runs in our family. My brother is a police officer.
“Three years ago I took a leap of faith and began my journey pursuing my dream. I worked as an unpaid intern with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.”
SGTC Law Enforcement Academy instructor and Academic Affairs Dean Vanessa Wall made the announcement of the Lt. Michael Sangster scholarship recipient during the graduation ceremony.  Lt. Sangster’s sister, Melissa Sangster, and his father, Bob Sangster, were on hand to present the certificate and the scholarship check. This is the seventh Lt. Michael Sangster scholarship that has been awarded at SGTC since 2012.
Melissa Sangster took the opportunity to speak to the members of the SGTC Law Enforcement Academy graduating class after she helped present the scholarship.
“I do not normally speak at these graduations; however, last night I felt like Gold, along with a persistent angel whose badge number is 16, laid something on my heart to share with you today.
“Michael would tell his students that in this line of work, you must have the mentality of a warrior. You need to have the mindset that you are the strongest person in the world and that nothing can defeat you. No matter what situation may come before you, you are always to go home at the end of your shift. No matter how bad the struggle or how bad the fight, you are stronger and can defeat any obstacle that comes before you. In the back of your minds, you must know that you need to go home each night to tuck your loved ones in and make sure they know how much you love them.
“Thank you for choosing to help make the community you are going to, a better and safer place to live,” she said. “I pray that God will lead, guide, guard, and direct you each and every day, and that you will always remember to have the mentality of a warrior.”
Lt. Michael Sangster was an officer with the Crisp County Sheriff’s Office and served as a volunteer instructor for the SGTC Law Enforcement Academy from the inception of the program. He lost his battle with cancer and died in 2012, at the age of 35. With the help of LEA students, friends, SGTC faculty, and staff, and Lou Crouch, the Sangster family was able to endow a scholarship in his memory for SGTC LEA students.
Michael Sangster of Cordele held numerous POST certifications, including general instructor, firearms instructor, defensive tactics instructor, TASER instructor, and driver instructor. He was born in Dooly County but spent most of his life in Cordele. He was the son of Robert Sangster Sr. and Connie Sangster.  He has a sister, Melissa Sangster and a son Caleb.
“On behalf of South Georgia Technical College and the South Georgia Technical College Foundation, I would like to thank the Sangster family, Lou Crouch and the other individuals who donated to this particular scholarship for partnering with us,” said SGTC President John Watford, Ed.D. “We appreciate the opportunities that this scholarship is providing for our deserving Law Enforcement Academy students. Your investment in an endowed scholarship will continue to give back to our students indefinitely. We appreciate everything you are doing for our students and our community. Thank you again for recognizing the value of the educational opportunities and for supporting this effort. The students you help today will be the public servants that we count on tomorrow in our local communities.”
For more information about making a donation to the Lt. Michael Sangster Scholarship Fund or for endowing a scholarship at South Georgia Technical College, contact Su Ann Bird, SGTC Foundation executive director at 229.931.2110 or sbird@southgatech.edu.  Contributions may also be mailed to the SGTC Foundation, P.O. Box 6102, Americus GA 31709.
The SGTC Law Enforcement Academy program takes 18 weeks to complete and most recruits qualify for the HOPE Grant and other forms of financial aid. Admission standards require all students to undergo a thorough background check and adhere to all rules as set forth by the state POST Council. Students will also have to meet minimum scores in English, reading, and math.