by Geoff Larcom, Published May 27, 2013
YPSILANTI – Brooke O'Neil, a senior criminology major at Eastern Michigan University, has been chosen as the first recipient of the Greg O'Dell Criminal Justice Scholarship.
The scholarship fund was started last year as the key element of the First Annual Greg O'Dell Golf Outing, held at Eagle Crest Golf Club in Ypsilanti, MI. The inaugural event proved an overwhelming success and sent organizers well on their way to achieving the-three year goal of endowing a $100,000 scholarship fund to benefit EMU criminal justice students.
O'Dell, a highly respected former chief of police at EMU and an avid golfer, died in Dec. 2011. The outing's motto, "Keep His Dream Alive" spoke to O'Dell's longtime commitment to law enforcement and his goal to fund a scholarship for students seeking careers in the field.
This year's second annual scholarship benefit golf event, which AT&T has again generously agreed to sponsor, will be held at Eagle Crest on Friday, September 20, 2013. Details on registration will follow this summer.
"I was awestruck when I found out that I was the one to receive the scholarship," O'Neil said. "I am beyond grateful for it and cannot wait for my senior year to commence."
O'Neil, from St. Clair Shores, carries a 3.96 GPA at EMU, and has been on the Dean's List for six consecutive semesters. She has excelled in her criminology and criminal justice courses, along with taking on additional course work in white-collar crime and criminology to fulfill Honors College requirements.
She has been exceptionally active in student and community organizations, including Night Watch in the residence halls, Relay for Life and membership in Sigma Delta Tau Sorority.
O'Neil also was chosen to present a paper last fall on women's studies and emotional abuse at the National Women's Studies Association Conference in San Francisco.
In her application for the O'Dell scholarship, which awards her $4,000 to help pay for her senior year of studies, O'Neil spoke of her passion for criminology.
"I was always excited to go to class, even on my worst days," O'Neil wrote of beginning her criminology studies at EMU. "I enjoyed getting homework ... because I got to research and read things that actually interested me. Fast-forward three years, and I am still captivated by all that criminology has to offer, and my thirst for knowledge has not faltered."
O'Neil, who is on target to graduate from EMU next April, plans to attend graduate school, earn a doctorate in criminology and become a professor.
"Teaching criminology would give me the ability to show others how much it affects our everyday lives, and will allow me to show people that the field is vastly different from how it is portrayed in the media through TV and in movies," O'Neil says.
O'Dell, an EMU alumnus, became executive director of the Eastern Michigan University Department of Public Safety in 2008 after a distinguished tenure with the Ann Arbor Police Department.
The years that followed saw a wide variety of safety improvements at EMU, including the opening in fall 2009 of a new Department of Public Safety headquarters in a remodeled building at the northwest end of campus, at a cost of $3.9 million. During O'Dell's tenure, EMU increased campus foot patrols, established a crime-solving unit, increased campus surveillance and greatly enhanced residence hall security.
O'Dell graduated from EMU in 1992 with a bachelor of science degree and then received his Juris Doctor from the University of Toledo College of Law in 1996.
Prior to joining Eastern, O'Dell served as the deputy chief of the Ann Arbor Police Department for four years. During his almost 20 years with the Ann Arbor Police Department, O'Dell served in numerous positions, including interim chief from November 2005 to June 2006.
O'Dell was born in Flint in 1957 and graduated from Clio High School. He died on December 23, 2011 and is survived by his wife, Kathy, and his two daughters, Kelly and Erin.
To make a donation for the scholarship fund, please go to the EMU Foundation website at https://www.emufoundation.org/index.php/public-give.html?fund=01954.