I recently had the opportunity to meet with one of our LEAF scholarship recipients, Rachel Kutsanai, who is currently a freshman at the University of Nevada, Reno. LEAF, the Law Enforcement Assistance Fund, is a charity that honors our fallen heroes by ensuring that their children are afforded the opportunity to attend college. LEAF is a nonprofit managed by the Las Vegas Police Protective Association, and its overarching mission is to support the spouses and minor children of LVPPA officers who fall in the line of duty.
This past year, LEAF awarded six scholarships to graduating high school seniors planning to attend college. Each scholarship is a monetary award of $5,000, and to be considered, each applicant is required to submit an essay. Rachel was selected out of the list of applicants to receive a scholarship, and while she was on winter break, I had the opportunity to sit down with her and discuss LEAF and find out how school was going.
Rachel stated that a huge motivating factor to apply for the LEAF scholarship was family. Rachel’s father is Rocky Kutsanai, a corrections officer with the LVMPD; her mother is Tracy Shelvin, an LEST at the Firearms Tactical Training Unit; and her stepfather is John Shelvin, a police officer with the LVMPD. While speaking to Rachel, you could tell how proud she is of both her parents’ career paths in law enforcement. Rachel informed me that the transition from high school to college was not easy, but having been raised with strong morals and structure has helped her make the transition with ease. Rachel attended the Las Vegas Academy, and what really impressed me was that she did not and does not allow the opinions of others to dictate how she feels about law enforcement. Rachel stated that she is enjoying the campus life and has joined the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. In addition to being a great student, she also works part-time at Buckle. Rachel has expressed a desire to major in chemistry and has a dream of working for the FBI or LVMPD as a forensic scientist. I asked Rachel how it felt when she won the LEAF scholarship, and she stated that it was one of the proudest moments of her young life. She was really excited because of how happy and proud her parents were. She called it a testament to her strong upbringing and the positive example her parents have set for her.
I was extremely impressed with Rachel and her apparent drive to succeed; this young woman is mature beyond her years, but is well grounded in her family and her beliefs. I look forward to keeping in touch with her, and we here at the LVPPA are extremely proud of her.