Col. Ronald M. Sharpe Scholarship

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Col. Ronald M. Sharpe served as Commissioner of the PA State Police from 1987-1991. To honor Col. Sharpe’s memory and his many contributions to law enforcement a scholarship was established at West Chester University, The Col. Ronald M. Sharpe Scholarship.  

In December 2021, this fund was endowed. It will continue to grow and support a West Chester University undergraduate, minority student studying Criminal Justice. Endowing this fund for the future establishes a permanent legacy in Col. Sharpe's memory. Learn more about Criminal Justice at WCU here.

Our new goal is to grow the endowment to $30,000 so $1,000 per year can be awarded to a student.  Currently, the scholarship awards $500 per year to one student.

Continue to support Col. Shape's scholarship by giving directly to the endowment. To give securely online, click Give Now. Help spread the word by sharing this page with others to ensure Col. Sharpe’s tremendous legacy of honesty, integrity, and vision lives on. *To give anonymously, please check the appropriate box on the giving form. 

To contribute by mail, make checks payable to WCU Foundation, and write "Col. Sharpe Endowment" on the memo line. 

Mail to: 

WCU Foundation

202 Carter Drive 

West Chester, PA 19382

Thank you for your support!

Col. Ronald M. Sharpe

Commissioner, Pennsylvania State Police 1987-1991

Feature Update
Naseemah Jackson '23 - Colonel Ronald M. Sharpe Scholarship Recipient

22 days ago by Kirsten Scheck
Advancing Higher Education in Law Enforcement - Annual Report 2022

121 days ago by Kirsten Scheck
The Communicator - September 2021

We are excited to share the newest edition of The Communicator. Click the link to read about our most recent Col. Sharpe Scholar, Amadou Barry, in a column penned by Commissioner Colonel Robert Evanchick. 

534 days ago by Lauren Giannaris
Congratulations to our newest scholarship recipient!

Congratulations to the newest Col. Ronald M. Sharpe Scholar, Amadou Barry! Please take a moment to read about Amadou in the article below, written by WCU student and Golden Ram Society member, Maura Szanajda ’21.

“People that look like me are able to rise above whatever doubt other people have and get to that position of power,” says Amadou Barry, a senior criminal justice major at West Chester University – and this year’s recipient of the Colonel Ronald M. Sharpe Scholarship, an award that supports minority students in his chosen field.

Amadou was born in Upper Darby, Pa, but was raised by his grandparents in Conakry, Guinea. As babies, he and his brother were sent to live with them to learn about their culture and to have the experience of living in their native land. At five, his parents brought Amadou back to the States to start school. Having lived in a different country for his whole life, Amadou experienced quite a bit of adjusting before he felt at home in America.

“When I got to America it was a lot different,” he explains. “I could see the main differences – cars, roads, people – but also the little things, like the smell of fresh air. Everything was so different, and I wasn’t used to that. The English thing was very hard because I didn’t speak any English before coming back here,” he adds. “I spoke French and Fulani because those are the two languages that I learned in Guinea.”

Amadou didn’t feel confident speaking English until he entered middle school and began playing football. After completing high school, he received a partial scholarship to play football at Kutztown University, a blessing for him. To save money, he transferred to Delaware County Community College after two years, and three semesters later, he landed at West Chester University; he will graduate in May 2021, the first person in his family to do so.

This is a point of pride for Amadou, but also generates pressure to succeed. He’s taught his younger brothers that anything is possible if they work hard, and Amadou has worked hard to graduate with the goal of becoming a state trooper. He was inspired to enter law enforcement as a child, when his grandfather – the Chief of Police in Conakry, the largest city in Guinea and right-hand man to the president – told Amadou and his brother stories about his day. Now, Amadou is driven by that same pride and passion.

Having compared American police to those in Guinea, Amadou knows he wants to make a difference and impact his community. He’s seen how in America, police are respected – their uniforms mean something and elicit admiration – while in Guinea, poverty and corruption prevent those in law enforcement from being treated well.

When speaking about the qualities of a police officer as a figure in society, Amadou says that the most important thing to him is that an officer is personable. A police officer must be able to work with people, communicate well, and be themselves both on and off the job. They are members of a community, and the best way to be respected and trusted is to build relationships with the people they are working with. He also mentioned integrity, honesty, and being hard-working.

Amadou uses these same traits to describe Colonel Sharpe when discussing the impact Col. Sharpe made on the Pennsylvania State Police Force. As the first African American Police Commissioner, Col. Sharpe led the way for all of the African American men and women on the force who followed him. Without his dedication and persistence, he would not have broken down racial barriers and fought against injustice within the justice system.

“I can relate to the ways in which he was able to fight against challenges,” says Amadou. “I have faced many in my life and will continue to fight through them. That’s what inspires me to be the best person I can be in my law enforcement profession, as I hope to help people and change the world for the better.”

Amadou will be giving the commencement speech at his upcoming graduation and is looking forward to working with the United States Marshal Service New York- New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force over the summer. He’s also working on applications for various law enforcement agencies in surrounding cities and states but does not have any other plans just yet. He does know that he wants to move around and not stay in the same place forever. “As a state trooper, the whole state is under your jurisdiction.

You’re not just impacting one area – you’re constantly moving and working in different communities.” 

He is excited about his future endeavors and is extremely grateful for the opportunities that this scholarship has provided him. “At the end of the day, I'm all about diversity,” he says. “First, it's all about qualifying for a job. Then, if you add on a special language or if you're from a different cultural background, that's just a plus for me. I feel like I can do good with those things wherever I end up.”


~ Maura Szanajda ’21

680 days ago by Lauren Giannaris
Colonel Sharpe Scholarship recipient featured in WCU Magazine!

The Colonel Ronald M. Sharpe Scholarship and first ever recipient, Maya Pryor, were featured in the Fall 2019 issue of the WCU magazine. 

Click here to read the story!

683 days ago by Lauren Giannaris
Conversation with Maya Pryor - First recipient of the Colonel Sharpe Scholarship

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

These words—spoken by Nelson Mandela—have become the motto of West Chester University criminal justice undergraduate Maya Pryor, who has been selected as the inaugural recipient of the Colonel Ronald M. Sharpe Memorial Scholarship. Colonel Sharpe, who served with the Pennsylvania State Police for over three decades, held the position of Commissioner of the State Police for three and a half years. Maya, like Colonel Sharpe, strives towards disassembling biases to create a better world, one filled with more opportunities for all, and while she may gravitate toward the social work side of criminal justice, the fields of most interest to her are restorative and juvenile justice.

Maya has seen the lives of those around her touched by both sides of the criminal justice system. Raised in the impoverished neighborhoods of Camden, New Jersey, Maya witnesses violence and drug use, a lack of educational opportunities, and the depravity of the educational institutions available; this is where her fascination of why things are the way they are, of wanting to learn and dissect the inner workings of the world around her, was born.

A story of remarkable feats, Maya entered the ADP (Academic Development Program) at West Chester University of Pennsylvania. This five-week college preparatory program saw Maya flourish and resulted in her acceptance to the University, including financial assistance through the University’s W.W. Smith Scholarship. This experience motivated Maya to want to impact the lives of people in need and propelled her to confidently dive into her academics as a psychology major.

It quickly became apparent to both Maya and her professors that her real talents—her intrigue of humanity through the theoretical lens of nature versus nurture, her perceptiveness and ability to read others, her intuitiveness, and extraordinary passion toward caring for the underprivileged, including those incarcerated who sit, forgotten by society—were best cultivated in the University’s criminal justice program.

Maya’s interest in juvenile and restorative justice stems from the importance she places on changing and reforming the system, which she has also explored through her experiences as a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), as a sorority sister, and through Sisters United. “It’s about helping these people before the crimes are committed, before they get stuck in a cycle of violence, crime, and incarcerations,” she says.

Maya’s views are informed by theories and classes such as an inside-out program affiliated with the State Correctional Institute in Chester, Pennsylvania. Students take part in a 15-week program where they learn in a classroom setting among the inmates. She regards it as the most impactful, perception-shattering courses she has taken thus far. “After a couple of weeks, we came to see them as people and not just inmates. We are all people, and we all make mistakes.”

Maya attributes her educational success in part to her ability to connect the theories she learns with her own experiences, and those of the people around her, in Camden. When she contributes to class discussions, she seeks to change the textbook perceptions of inner cities and the people in them, hoping instead to focus on working together to fix the problems that plague these communities. Maya advocates for a ‘Positive Youth’ approach, calling for the endowment and allocation of more funding for education in the hope of creating environments that will allow for the fostering of safer communities where people can be educated and succeed; these same people can then use using their experiences in life to give back and help others, rather than being trapped by them. This belief stems from Maya’s own eagerness to learn and her love of education that—with help and hard work—paved the way for her success at West Chester University.

Maya focused her energy and passion for change in the justice system and educational opportunities for underprivileged youth into her former job at the Chester County Youth Center where she learned to interact with and hold a more open, successful dialogue with children and young adults. Currently, she is interning at the Valley Youth House where she assists in case work and attends professional ethics training courses. “I love kids, and having the opportunity to speak with and help them.”

With the help of the Colonel Ronald M. Sharpe Memorial Scholarship, Maya will be able to graduate in December 2019 with a bachelor’s degree and successful completion of her criminal justice program. After graduation, Maya plans to become a Juvenile Probations Officer. Eventually, she would like to earn her master’s in administration and work in a detention center, but also entertains an interest in becoming a licensed social worker and traveling to minority communities to treat children with mental health conditions such as PTSD. She would like to start her own practice and work toward cultivating safer communities with better educational opportunities. This model is built upon her honorable stance that change is best served through non-violent means. Speaking on herself and how she and her generation can be that catalyst for change, she says, “We are the future. We need to step up and be the role models for others.”

683 days ago by Lauren Giannaris
The Communicator - October

Click the link below to read an article published in the Pennsylvania State Police news - The Communicator - in October 2019 about the first recipient of the Colonel Sharpe Scholarship, Maya Pryor!

The Communicator - October 2019

683 days ago by Lauren Giannaris

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