By Mark Yanez, Vice President Santa Cruz Deputy Sheriffs Association
On May 30 The Santa Cruz Deputy Sheriff’s Association awarded three local students with $1000 scholarships. The awards are named to commemorate three outstanding Santa Cruz County Law Enforcement Officers who gave their lives to public service; Santa Cruz Police Sergeant Loran “Butch” Baker; Santa Cruz Police Officer Elizabeth Butler; and Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Gray.
Applicants for the awards are students who have a family member who serves in a law enforcement capacity. The students were evaluated on academics, involvement in school activities, and community service. Applicants are also required to write an essay about their goals and the importance of this scholarship.
The Loran “Butch” Baker award was given to Andrea Rodriguez-Rocha, age 18. Andrea attended St. Francis High School in Watsonville and just completed her first year at Sonoma State University where she is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice. Andrea is on the Dean’s List for academic achievement at the university.
Andrea has served for four years with “Loaves and Fishes,” an organization that feeds those in need in Watsonville and she has also taught classes for kids at her church.
Andrea volunteers with the Sheriff’s Activity League (SAL) and works for the Watsonville Police Activity League (PAL) to coach and teach kids sports and other activities. These programs help at risk youth and create a partnership with our law enforcement.
Andrea’s mother, Monica, works for the Sheriff’s Office as a Program Coordinator and her father, Saul, worked for Santa Cruz Police for over 17 years and is currently a police officer in Pacific Grove.
The Elizabeth Butler women in law enforcement award was given to Soquel High School senior Madelyn Scianna, age 17. Madelyn will be attending Santa Barbara City College to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree in public health. Madelyn has a jump start on her college education as she has already completed multiple classes at Cabrillo College.
Madelyn has participated in Junior Guards for most of her childhood and was a member of the swim and water polo teams. Madelyn has participated in feeding the homeless through Resurrection Church.
Madelyn’s father Brannon is a Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Correctional Officer and her uncle Jacob is a Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Sergeant.
The Michael Gray award was given to Scotts Valley High School senior Cassidy O’Brien-Kerr. Cassidy will be attending Cal State University Channel Islands this fall and pursuing her goal of becoming a nurse practitioner or law enforcement professional. Cassidy was a habitual honor roll student, completed multiple college classes at Cabrillo College, and received the “Seal of Biliteracy” in Spanish.
Cassidy has been active in sports, drama, and was the student executive in charge of planning and building, the Scotts Valley High School Haunted House this past October. The event is the main fundraiser for the high school.
Cassidy has volunteered helping students with learning and physical disabilities, helping the people in need locally. Cassidy also helped a volunteer group build a medical facility in an impoverished area in Mexico.
Cassidy’s father Daren has been a Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Deputy for 24 years.
Congratulations to the award recipients!