Relgalf Scholar Earns Degree Working as Police Investigator

November 29, 2022
Scott Gaston
Ponce Inlet Police Department Investigator, Scott Gaston, is excited about the future. 

Currently studying Criminology through the Distance Learning Program at the FSU College of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Scott admits that his path could have been different if not for the opportunity provided by the Relgalf Scholarship.

He said, "This scholarship is a blessing, and being able to do my coursework online is a game-changer. I could never pull this off if it required me to be on campus. I get to advance my education while serving with the Ponce Inlet Police Department. It's a perfect fit."

The "perfect fit" the scholarship provides was by design. The Relgalf Scholarship is a scholarship award created for current police officers by the Relgalf Charitable Foundation to increase the educational background among police officers in small U.S. police departments. Each recipient of the Relgalf Scholarship serves at a small department/agency for 3-years following graduation with a bachelor's degree in Criminology.

The nationally ranked College of Criminology and Criminal Justice Distance Learning Program offers online bachelor's and master's degrees, allowing students to connect and take classes with professors who are leaders in the field while never stepping foot on campus. Online courses also give students the flexibility to tailor their schedules to meet the needs of their families and employers.

As Scott continues to work full-time as a Police Investigator and take online classes, he admits he's been on this path before, but it did not work out the way he had envisioned. Scott previously served 21 years with the Ormond Police Department while taking college courses, but a family emergency changed everything.

"I took classes in 2000, and it was going well, but my wife and kids were in a catastrophic car accident. It was terrifying. I almost lost my son. I left school to be with my family and never went back."

Scott assisted his family's recovery and eventually retired from the Ormond Police Department in 2014. After a short 5-year stint in the private sector serving as a catastrophe planner for an insurance company, Scott longed for a return to law enforcement.

Inspector Scott Gaston pictured with Ponce Inlet Police Lt. Corey Mead. 

He said, "It was a great job, but I found it boring. I knew I wanted to get back into police work. I brought my family in on what I was thinking about, and they told me to do it."

After receiving his family's blessing, Scott returned to law enforcement and accepted a position with the Ponce Inlet Police Department. He also wanted to take another swing at his academic pursuits.

In 2021 Scott earned his Associates Degree in Criminal Justice from Daytona State College and was then accepted into the online Criminology program at Florida State University.

Scott was able to pursue his professional and educational goals but didn't want to drain his bank account. He said, "When you're in your 50s, you are not necessarily looking to acquire new debt, so I started looking at the various scholarships listed on the College of Criminology and Criminal Justice website, and that is when I found the Relgalf Scholarship."

Today, Scott is a senior majoring in Criminology. He is also working on an undergraduate certificate in Emergency Management and continues encouraging others in law enforcement to research available scholarships. "Whether you are in law enforcement or not, several opportunities and scholarships are available; you just have to apply."

Jeff Glazier, Chief of the Ponce Inlet Police Department, spoke highly of Scott and his academic pursuits, saying, "I firmly believe in continuing education, so I encouraged Scott to go as far as he could. I think any Criminology or Criminal Justice program exposes you to the other facets of the profession. You learn that the criminal justice system is not only the police department. It comprises many different roles and responsibilities that make the system work. The more you know, the more significant impact you can make."

Scott plans to continue pursuing academic opportunities and would eventually like to teach. 

Following graduation, Scott plans to continue serving with the Ponce Inlet Police Department to fulfill his 3-year commitment to a small department through the Relgalf Scholarship.

For information on the Relgalf Scholarship and other scholarship opportunities, please visit Relgalf Scholarship or contact Dana Behnke.

Please visit Online Degree Programs for information about the College's Distance Learning Programs.