Investing In Our Community: The First Recipient of Jason’s Memorial Scholarship

Today I was given another opportunity to give back to the Texarkana community and to invest in the education of future law enforcement officers.  We awarded the first ever check for the Officer William Jason Sprague Memorial Scholarship to Austin Butts.

check presentation

When we established the scholarship the goal was to provide a support system for those intending to enter into the criminal justice career field.  I have often times felt that many individuals give up on their dream or calling to be a law enforcement officer because they simply don’t have the support system they need. This is not the department, the college, or really anyone’s fault. It’s simply a need that should be met, and I intended to help meet it by establishing the scholarship.  My prayer is that by investing both financially and emotionally in the lives of future officers, we can better cultivate individuals who will follow their dreams and callings to be officers.

As I awaited the start of the presentation ceremony, I watched in awe at all of the support from my blue family, the community, and my family at Texarkana College.  The lobby was filled with individuals who were there to remember Jason’s legacy, but also to support Austin in his endeavors to become an officer.  I couldn’t help but smile and think how proud Jason must be of all the positive ways we are helping the greater Texarkana area.


As I stood and listened to James Henry Russell, president of Texarkana College, and Chief Shiner of the Texarkana Texas Police Department, I was reassured that this is the path God intended for me.  I am beyond blessed to be supported by my blue family in my walk towards ensuring Jason’s memory is not forgotten by daily impacting our community and investing in its future.

When I lost Jason, I lost more than a piece of myself. For a short time I lost my ability to breathe, to make decisions, and really to function.  I couldn’t imagine how something horrible could happen to my family.  And then, time after time I was supported.  My blue family lifted me up, carried me, and fixed what I could not.  They pray for me, hug me, and encourage me to follow my dreams.  To have them with me today as we set in motion our first investment in our community’s future, was beyond fitting.  They are my family, and I wanted to stress that to Austin today as well.  Without every member of my blue family, I wouldn’t have the courage to follow my dreams and to impact our community. Austin, please know that today’s scholarship was not a gift from just me, it was a gift from all of my blue family.  They are a large part of my confidence and ability.  And I pray that our investment today provides you with the emotional support you need to follow your own calling in law enforcement.

I can say without any hesitation that Jason approves of our choice for the very first recipient, and he is beyond proud of his brothers and sisters who shook Austin’s hand today and reassured him that he has support.  Austin, you have gained many future family members today if this is where your path takes you, and if you chose another, please know that I meant what I said, I am investing in your future…a long term investment, not a short term one.

To the staff of Texarkana College, please know thank you does not even begin to describe the gratitude I have for all that you continue to do for the future of Texarkana.  Your generosity today is humbling and a validation to me that I am on the path God called me to be.  Thank you for allowing me to honor Jason’s memory by investing in the lives of your students! You ALL are doing amazing things with Texarkana’s future, and I couldn’t have picked a better location to establish the scholarship fund!

To my family in blue, thank you for believing in me, picking me up, helping me, and pushing me to follow my dreams.  Thank you for being my support system, and for making your presence known in person or spirit today!  You all make me feel loved and safe daily, and for that I can never repay you.  Your support of Austin today was heartwarming to me, and I pray that we get many more chances to experience this together!

austin and officers

To Austin and his family, thank you for being a part of my journey! Thank you for applying and helping me honor Jason’s memory.  Austin, I pray that you follow your calling, and that you use every resource you have been given today to ensure your own success.  You are a wonderfully mannered and determined young man, and I can say without hesitation that Jason approves of our choice. I also pray that you will encourage other young people to follow their own callings.  The path you have chosen is far from easy, but it is filled with support and love from all of us!  Good luck, and please keep in touch!

We need you help in raising money for the scholarship.  We are currently at 14,000 and need 25,000 to ensure this is a permanent scholarship. If you would like to invest in the future of our community and the lives of future officers, please contact Katie Andrus at Texarkana College in Texarkana, Texas.  She will be glad to direct you on how to donate to the memorial scholarship!