JSU's Alpha Sigma Omega Chapter Excels at ACJA-LAE
By Rick Asbell
Lambda Alpha Epsilon
JACKSONVILLE -- April 11, 2002 -- March 16, 2002 found eight members of the Alpha Sigma Omega chapter of Lambda Alpha Epsilon flying into the Denver International Airport. They were going to Cheyenne, Wyoming to participate in the ACJA-LAE national conference. It was the first time that the Jacksonville State University chapter had participated in twenty-five years.
The American Criminal Justice Association Lambda Alpha Epsilon is a national criminal justice professional organization that, among other things, strives to improve criminal justice through education, foster professionalism in all areas of criminal justice, and promote professional, academic and public awareness of criminal justice issues.
Once a year, a week-long National Conference is held that is comprised of a national business meeting, banquets and a guest speaker as well as workshops, seminars, and written, practical and physical competitive events. Practical and physical events include a crime scene investigation, a pistol competition and a physical agility test. Those in attendance range from criminal justice majors in college to criminal justice professionals to persons retired from the field of criminal justice.
Eight among hundreds, the members of Alpha Sigma Omega made their way to Cheyenne with excitement. They weren’t sure what to expect, but they wanted the experience in order to more fully understand their roles in both criminal justice and in Lambda Alpha Epsilon. It would allow them the opportunity to not only forge stronger bonds amongst themselves, but also with criminal justice students and professionals from all over the nation.
Some groups, like Alpha Sigma Omega, were small. Others, like the group from Florida State University were large and had a history of a strong and active presence in the organization. It is this kind of history that the attending members from Alpha Sigma Omega hoped to build for the Department of Criminal Justice and Jacksonville State University.
Competitions began on the first full day of the conference. With only a couple of months to prepare, the team members from JSU weren’t sure how well they would fare, especially against such formidable teams as the one from FSU. In Crime Scene, Will Coulter, Beth Chilcoat, Becca Lasch, Les Bryant, James Lentz and Holli Driver would compete. Will Coulter, Les Bryant and Jordan Land would be in the pistol competition. Rick Asbell would compete in the LAE knowledge category. Dean Buttram attended as chapter advisor.
The first two days were filled with excitement, encouragement, and stress. All members would do their best, but all agreed that the most important goal was to have fun and learn more about what to expect for the next year. Once competitions were over, all were relieved, but it wouldn’t be until the very end of the conference that the results would be given.
The days passed, and friendships deepened among the members. They were able to experience not only the conference, but also the surrounding countryside, skiing in the Rocky Mountains, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse and historic Cheyenne.
Finally, the last day of the conference arrived and the members prepared for the closing banquet. The hundreds of members in attendance gathered and shortly after the first course, the awards ceremony began. To the surprise of all, because most of the group didn’t know that she entered, Holli Driver won first place in the national scholarship competition for graduate students. Rick Asbell won first place in the LAE knowledge category. It was an amazing evening for all, and the excitement in the group was palpable. From among the hundreds in attendance, members of the group placed first in two separate categories--not bad for a chapter that had not participated in twenty-five years!
It was a wonderful trip, an experience that cannot be adequately conveyed in an article such as this. It was truly a memorable event, not just because of the competitions, but also because of the strengthened friendships. A precedent has been set, and the future of Alpha Sigma Omega at Jacksonville State University is bright indeed.
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