Within the Social Science Building of Weber State University’s main campus, students studying Criminal Justice have options for financial aid. (The Signpost Archives)

Weber State University’s Department of Criminal Justice prepares students for careers in criminal justice, forensic science and crime scene investigation, but the path to the professional world can come with a hefty price tag, so the department proffers several scholarships to students in the program and is set to roll out a new scholarship for the 2017–18 academic school year.

Since 2007 and 2008, respectively, the Department of Criminal Justice has offered the Raechale Elton Memorial Scholarship and James W. Cawley Scholarships to students.

“Both scholarships are funded through donations made by the families of Raechale and James, as well as anonymous donors,” Molly Sween, assistant professor in the CJ department and chair of the undergraduate scholarship committee, said.

According to Sween, the James W. Cawley Scholarship will not be awarded this year “due to insufficient funds in the account.”

However, thanks to a recent internal donation at WSU, the Elton Memorial Scholarship will be awarded to two students annually instead of just one.

Beginning in late spring 2017, students may apply for the newly established Jerry Dahlberg Scholarship, funded by donations from Jerry Dahlberg’s family. According to Sween, the criteria for this scholarship should be available on the CJ website later this spring.

Sween recommended that students start by filling out a scholarship application through the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office at WSU. This will allow them to be eligible to receive departmental scholarships. The Financial Aid and Scholarship Office is located on the first floor of the Student Services building, and more information about them can be found online.

Depending on the scholarship, students may need to put together a package to be considered. It is important for students to check the criteria before applying to see if they qualify and what they must do to be considered.

While these scholarships are available to all students in the Criminal Justice Department, not all students are applying for them. Sween said she believes there are three primary reasons that students do not apply for these scholarships.

First, students may not be aware of what scholarships for which they qualify. Sween suggested that students visit the financial aid office and get help to work through the system.

“I think a second issue is that students falsely assume that the application process is too burdensome. Therefore, they don’t even initiate the process,” Sween said, adding that each scholarship in the department typically receives fewer than a dozen applications per year.

The third problem, according to Sween, is that students might believe “they have to be a perfect fit in order to apply.”

Aside from the time it takes to apply, Sween said students have nothing to lose by applying for scholarships.

“I often encourage students to apply if they think they closely meet the criteria since the scholarship committee looks at all elements of their package to evaluate their eligibility,” Sween said.

The department also awards an Alumni Scholarship and Department Chair’s Scholarship to students. Unlike the Elton and Cawley scholarships, there is no application process for these scholarships.

For students still in high school, Sween suggests that they begin looking for scholarships early on.

“Another thing to keep in mind is that not all scholarships are the same,” Sween said. “Therefore, students should be mindful of and knowledgeable about what options are best for their short- and long-term goals.”

Students who would like more information about the aforementioned scholarships can visit the department’s website or contact Sween directly via her email at

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