National Park College student Yolanza Ford was recently awarded the Kristy Carter Book scholarship by the college as she continues her pursuit in crime scene investigation.
Ford, a graduate of Hot Springs World Class High School, is seeking her Associate of Applied Science degree in Criminal Justice from NPC and plans to transfer to the University of Arkansas Fort Smith to complete her Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice degree.
Ford said receiving the scholarship is "truly a blessing" and she is very grateful for it.
"I was doing vo-tech before I became a first college student, and I wanted to be a lawyer at first but I decided to be a crime scene investigator due to doing crime scene documentation because it was more hands-on and it was very fun," she said.
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"You can dust fingerprints and do a lot of stuff. It's just more active and more hands-on, so I decided to go down that path. And my grandpa was a previous police officer and he just made me want to do, like, more hands-on stuff and get more into law enforcement."
Ford said she feels the scholarship will lead her to bigger and better things.
"This scholarship is allowing me to further my education and leading me to greater things that I can achieve in my career," she said. "I am truly grateful and blessed to be receiving this scholarship on behalf of NPC. I am very thankful to my professors who helped guide me throughout many semesters."
Ford said she knew from around the time she was a freshman in high school she wanted to do something in the criminal justice system, but it was the concurrent credit class offerings at NPC that really sparked her interest in the crime scene investigation side of the program.
With her introduction to NPC, she was able to gain hands-on learning experience in the high school Criminal Justice program at the National Park Technology Center, which, she noted, helped her get closer to her instructors and closer to the degree plan she would eventually choose.
"NPC is a college where you can experience, learn, and take new journeys as you start to prepare yourself for your future accomplishments," she said. "The programs are very helpful and the instructors were very helpful as well. They always asked me for, you know, if I ever needed anything or any extra help on trying to find the subject or text, to just let them know.
"And I also was involved in a program -- went to the convention center and actually did a competition for a crime scene documentation for a crime scene investigator. We all had a different position as a collector or documentator or even a photographer. So that was a great opportunity to do that as well with different teams and different cities and stuff."
Ford said she does not want to stop at just getting her bachelor's degree but wants to learn all she can to see where her future ultimately takes her.
"I'm going (to University of Arkansas Fort Smith) to get my bachelor's in criminal justice and I just want to seek more into the law enforcement (field)," she said. "I don't want to just stop here. I just want to keep going to get my Ph.D. and just learn more stuff in law enforcement just, like, express my degree in law enforcement more on the different stuff."
"As a student in my Art Appreciation course, I was impressed by Yolonza's work ethic and commitment to her education," Lana Taliaferro, NPC assistant professor of art, said. "Yolonza was the type of student who completed assignments more than once in order to grow, excel, and submit the very best work she can. She committed a great deal of time outside of class to her studies and did not shy away from hard work and required extra hours. She was a pleasure to have in my course."
Kristy Carter, who is an NPC alumna, created the Kristy Carter Book scholarship in 2020 because she felt that it was time to give back to her community. To qualify for the scholarship, a student must have a minimum GPA of 2.5, be an African American woman who is overcoming obstacles while pursuing her education and plan to transfer to a four-year college. Ford is the second recipient of the scholarship.