Cordele Dispatch, Cordele, GA

December 21, 2012

Students awarded Sangster scholarships

Submitted by Su Ann Bird
Cordele Dispatch

Americus — Three graduates of the South Georgia Technical College Law Enforcement Academy (LEA) were selected as the first recipients of the Lt. Michael Sangster endowed scholarship. 

These recipients are Krystal A. Wilborn of Eufaula, AL; Jim Raymond Pritchett of Eastman; and Billy R. Collier Jr. of Warwick and Rochelle.

Wilborn, Pritchett and Collier were recognized at the South Georgia Technical College Law Enforcement Academy graduation ceremony recently in front of members of the Sangster family and friends, fellow LEA graduates, college officials, and Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) Publicist Lou Crouch who helped endow the Lt. Michael Sangster Scholarship initially.

 Vanessa Wall, SGTC dean for Homeland Security Academic Programs, who also works with and helped establish the SGTC Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Academy, made the announcement of the first scholarship recipients during the graduation ceremonies.

“This is a very emotional time for me,” said Wall.  “Lt. Michael Sangster was a great guy and a wonderful friend to South Georgia Technical College.  He served as a volunteer instructor for the Law Enforcement Academy from the beginning of the program. 

“He and the Crisp County Sheriff’s office were tremendous assets to our program, and I am so glad that we were able to endow the Lt. Michael Sangster Scholarship in recognition of this outstanding individual.”

Lt. Sangster lost his battle with cancer and passed away earlier this year at the age of 35.  With the help of LEA students, friends, SGTC faculty and staff, and Lou Couch, the Sangster family was able to endow a scholarship in his memory for SGTC LEA students.

Sangster started with the Crisp County Sheriff’s Office in 1998 as a detention officer. He moved to deputy status and later became a drug enforcement agent.

He returned to duty as a deputy and was promoted to corporal in April of 2008 when he became the training officer.  He was promoted to sergeant in January of 2011 and then to lieutenant on June 4, 2012.

He held numerous P.O.S.T. certifications, including general instructor, firearms instructor, defensive tactics instructor, TASER instructor, and driver instructor.

“Lt. Michael Sangster set a tremendous standard for others to follow, and I hope that each of you will remember the type of man and officer that Michael Sangster was and that you will honor his memory throughout your career,” said Wall after she presented each of the scholarship recipients with a certificate and a check from the endowed scholarship fund as a reimbursement for their tuition expenses.

The scholarship recipients were selected based on academic performance, leadership qualities, and financial need.

Wilborn grew up in Eufaula.  Her mother passed away from cancer while she was a teenager in high school and she says, “My life changed drastically.  Most of my family does not have a college degree; they work at minimum paying jobs and their children are growing up in single parent homes just like I did.

“My mother’s death was my fuel to dream big and be bigger.  My mother would not have wanted anything less of me. 

“After high school, I earned basketball scholarships to Northeast Community College, Bevill State Community College and Troy University and had a great career.  I earned an Associate of Science, Bachelors in Biology and went on to complete a Masters in Biological and Environmental Science.”

After graduation, Wilborn worked as an adjunct instructor teaching biology, environmental science and algebra, but quickly found out that the teaching career was not for her. 

She began working as a security officer for two different companies and those positions brought her back to her childhood dreams of possibly becoming a police officer.  She learned about the South Georgia Technical College Law Enforcement Academy program and the rest is history.

“Now my childhood aspirations to become a police officer are becoming real.  I would like to thank South Georgia Tech, the Sangster family and everyone who helped endow this scholarship for their support,” said Wilborn.

Pritchett also thanked the Sangster family, the college, and the individuals who helped make the scholarship possible.  “I have a wife and two young daughters, and I drove 72 miles one way five days a week to attend the South Georgia Tech Law Enforcement Academy,” said Pritchett. 

“This was a tremendous struggle, but one that was worth every minute of it.  I would like to thank all of you for this opportunity and I hope that the Lt. Michael Sangster scholarship will continue to be a blessing for others in the years to come.”

Collier knew Sangster, and he said nothing would give him greater pleasure than making him proud. Collier lost his job after 16 years and put all of his energy into graduating from the Law Enforcement Academy in order to get a job in this area and provide for his family.

“I am going without things now, so that I can realize my goal of becoming a law enforcement officer,” said Collier. “I plan on staying in the law enforcement field for the rest of my life, and I know that I will represent South Georgia Technical College and Lt. Michael Sangster in a positive way.  Thank you for this scholarship and this opportunity.”

Sangster 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, who is four years old.  His grandparents are Leon and Ninell Penn of Cordele.

“On behalf of South Georgia Technical College and the South Georgia Technical College Foundation, I would like to thank Lou Crouch and the other individuals who donated to this particular scholarship for partnering with us,” said SGTC President Sparky Reeves. 

“We are excited about the opportunities that this scholarship is providing for our deserving Law Enforcement Academy students.   Partnerships like this one and others are crucial to our success.  Your investment in an endowed scholarship will continue to give back to our students indefinitely. 

“We appreciate what all of 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.”

Anyone interested in donating to the Lt. Michael Sangster LEA Scholarship at South Georgia Technical College may designate donations to the SGTC Foundation to that fund. Contributions may be mailed to the SGTC Foundation, P.O. Box 6102, Americus, GA.