Criminal Justice students shine at national conference

By FHSU University Communications

HAYS, Kan – Fort Hays State University student and faculty members of the Delta Tau Omega Chapter (DTO) of the American Criminal Justice Association (ACJA) earned numerous honors at the annual American Criminal Justice Association National Conference this past March in Louisville, Ky.


FHSU DTO members competed in a series of written tests and skills-based events in categories that included physical agility, firearms, crime scene team investigation, scholarly research poster presentations, scholarly papers, and a scholarship competition.


FSHU students and faculty award winners included:

  • Criminal Law – Zoe Buffington third place upper division
  • Police Administration – Matthias Pearce third place and Karen Thew second lower division, April Wayne second upper division, and Dr. Morgan Steele third professional division
  • Juvenile Justice – Matthias Pearce first place lower division
  • ACJA Knowledge – Karen Thew second place lower division
  • Homeland Security – Dr. Morgan Steele third place professional division
  • Criminology – Matthias Pearce third place and Karen Thew second lower division, Dr. Ziwei Qi second professional division
  • Research Posters – Karen Thew second place and Storm Flores first lower division, John Clayton-Hyer third upper division, and Juan Colegio second graduate division
  • Scholarships – Karen Thew first place ($800) lower division, Zoe Buffington first ($800) upper division, Abigail Hayes third ($200), and Laurelle Augustine first ($800) graduate division
  • National Paper Competition – Karen Thew first place ($200) lower division, Zoe Buffington third ($100) upper division, Laurelle Augustine second ($150), and Abigail Hayes first ($200) graduate division

(Note: In addition to cash prizes, the papers of first-place winners in the national paper competition will be published in the next issue of the LAE National Journal.)

  • Crime Scene Investigation Competition – Laurelle Augustine, Ziwei Qi, and Morgan Steele third place professional team
  • Firearms individual – Caleb Purvis third place lower division
  • Firearms team – Storm Flores, Caleb Purvis, and Karen Thew second place lower division, John Clayton-Hyer, Abigail Hayes, and Madelyn Underwood third upper division
  • Physical agility – Dr. Ziwei Qi second place Female 36+

DTO faculty advisor Dr. Tamara Lynn was awarded the Jim Hooker Outstanding Advisor Award in recognition of outstanding service to a chapter and region of ACJA-LAE.


In addition to conference activities, club members visited the offices of Louisville Metro Youth Transitional Services and the Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women. Club members also volunteered with Change Today, Change Tomorrow, a Louisville-based non-profit that serves the most marginalized communities in the city. They worked to clean up downtown areas, prepared mailers for stakeholders, organized the food pantry, and bagged items for distribution to residents in the area.


To cap off a momentous performance at the conference, FHSU DTO members also earned second-place honors in the convention lip-sync and talent competition.


FHSU DTO Conference attendees:

  • Laurelle Augustine, Hutchinson, KS
  • Karli Baalmann, Peck, KS
  • Zoe Buffington, Hays, KS
  • Enrique Cabrera-Rodriguez, Olathe, KS
  • John Clayton-Hyer, Wellington, KS
  • Juan Colegio, McAllen, TX
  • Ryan Deitering, Hays, KS
  • Storm Flores, Cimarron, KS
  • Abigail Hayes, Baldwin City, KS
  • Kylie Huelsmann, Oakley, KS
  • Dr. Tamara Lynn, Hays, KS
  • Matthias Pearce, Wallace, KS
  • Caleb Purvis, Westmoreland, KS
  • Dr. Ziwei Qi, Hays, KS
  • Dr. Morgan Steele, Hays, KS
  • Karen Thew, St. George, KS
  • Madelyn Underwood, Lawrence, KS
  • April Wayne, Hays, KS

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