South Georgia Technical College’s Gourley awarded Smarr-Smith Criminal Justice scholarship

Published 2:00 pm Friday, June 9, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Sergeant First Class Jason Gourley of the Crisp County Sheriff’s Office received the Smarr-Smith Criminal Justice Scholarship from the South Georgia Technical College Foundation recently.


Americus, GA – South Georgia Technical College Criminal Justice Technology graduate Jason Kyle Gourley of Cordele was awarded the Smarr-Smith Law Enforcement/Criminal Justice scholarship recently by the South Georgia Technical College Foundation.

    The Smarr-Smith endowed scholarship at South Georgia Technical College was created in memory of fallen Americus Police Officer Nicholas R. Smarr and Georgia Southwestern State University Campus Safety Officer Jody C. Smith.  The endowment was created by the Smarr-Smith Foundation, private individuals, and an anonymous donor.  Both Nicholas Smarr and Jody Smith attended the criminal justice program at South Georgia Technical College.

   Sergeant First Class Jason Gourley is a career law enforcement officer, currently employed by the Crisp County Sheriff’s Office.  He graduated from Crisp County High School in 2004.  During his senior year of high school, he was given the opportunity to begin working with the Crisp County Sheriff’s Office as a part-time detention officer.

   After high school graduation, he attended ABAC in Tifton but only completed one semester.  In 2005, he put his education on hold and went full-time with the Crisp county Sheriff’s Office.  He became a certified deputy in 2007.

   “Since then I have had a burning desire to finish my education.  However, working full-time and working different schedules and long hours made it difficult to attend in-person classes.  It has taken me almost 19 years to get where I am today but I plan to keep going,” said Gourley.

   The Crisp County Sheriff’s Department Senior Investigator graduated from the South Georgia Technical College Criminal Justice program recently with his associate of applied science degree.  He was grateful for the on-line and flexible class hours offered as part of the SGTC Criminal Justice program that allowed him to continue his education and work full-time.  “If it were not for grants and scholarships offered by South Georgia Technical College and the South Georgia Technical College Foundation, I would not have been able to continue my education.  I am so grateful for the support they have provided to get me to this stage.  Now I plan to continue on and complete my bachelor’s degree,” said Gourley.

   In addition to his job duties with the Crisp County Sheriff’s Department Gourley is married and has two children.

   “I am pleased to recommend Sergeant First Class Jason Gourley as a recipient of the Smarr-Smith Scholarship.  I consider it an honor to have one of my investigators in the Criminal Investigations Division to receive this honorable scholarship,” said First Lieutenant Teresa Miller, Chief Investigator at the Crisp County Sheriff’s Office. (who is also a Smarr-Smith Scholarship recipient).

   “I have watched Jason grow from a young Deputy to a Senior Investigator.  He is dedicated to his profession and displays integrity and high values as a law enforcement professional.  He has worked countless hours investigating crimes and processing crime scenes.  His dedication to proper evidence collection and processing helps ensure that cases are prosecuted,” added Miller

  “Jason is a great student.  I am very proud of him and I appreciate how hard he works,” said Teresa McCook, SGTC Americus Criminal Justice Instructor.  “He is exactly the type of student that this scholarship was meant to help.”

    South Georgia Technical College President Dr. John Watford congratulated Gourley on his accomplishments and thanked the Smarr and Smith families and others for their support of this scholarship. “We all regret that this scholarship opportunity had to come at the expense of the lives of two outstanding South Georgia Technical College students and law enforcement officers,” said Dr. Watford.  “Our hearts will continue to go out to the family and friends of Officers Smarr and Smith.  But it is our prayer that this gift will assist other POST certified officers who wish to continue their education. We hope that the fine men and women who earn these scholarships will honor the memories of Officers Smith and Smarr through their service to our citizens and that the memory of Nick Smarr and Jody Smith will continue to live on through the lives of these scholarship recipients.”

    Nicholas Smarr and Jody Smith, both attended the South Georgia Technical College Criminal Justice Program.  Smarr attained his Associate of Applied Science Degree in June of 2011 and became a certified law enforcement officer in 2012.  Jody Smith had attended South Georgia Tech in 2010 and had returned in 2016 to begin completing his Criminal Justice associate degree.

   Twenty-five Smarr-Smith scholarships have been awarded since the scholarships were endowed.  Charles Kinnamon and Adam O’Neal were the first two scholarship recipients. King W. Mitchell, Antoinette L. Johnson and Emerson R. Lundy were the second three recipients. Dalton Lee Windham and Cora K. Baker were awarded the scholarships in December 2018. Brandon Glover, April Cosby, and Matthew Pearce were the Smarr-Smith scholars in 2019.  Amneh Laursen, Chris Owens, Monteze McCall, Cedric Smith, Chandler Buchanan and David Rueda-Fierros were the 2020 scholars and Christopher Prokesh, Michael Cobb, Rodney Gore, and Eric Taylor-Hair received the awards in 2021.  Lt. Teresa Miller, Alisa Colwell, Michael Middleton and Hunter Fallin were recognized in 2022 and now Gourley has been awarded the scholarship in 2023.

   For more information about donating to the SGTC Foundation or endowing a scholarship at South Georgia Technical College, contact Su Ann Bird, Executive Director of the SGTC Foundation and Vice President of Institutional Advancement, at 229.931.2110 or  Contributions may also be mailed to the SGTC Foundation, P.O. Box 6102, Americus, GA.   Additional donations can be added to the Smarr-Smith Scholarship fund and all donations will be recognized and shared with members of the Smith and Smarr families.