“Education is the most powerful weapon, which you can use to change the world.”
— Nelson Mandela
I start with this inspiring quote because each calendar year in June, PPOA issues college scholarship awards to our full dues-paying members’ dependent children graduating from high school, as well as our members’ dependent children currently attending an accredited college or university. PPOA also contributes a one-time $1,000 award to one active full dues-paying member who is attending college. Since the inception of this scholarship program, PPOA has been honored to contribute more than $120,000 toward the educational goals of our members and their children.
On June 8, 2022, PPOA held its 11th annual College Scholarship Award Ceremony in the Conference Center at PPOA Headquarters, where 14 very deserving students were recognized for their academic achievement, school activities, community service and the submission of a 500-to-750-word essay based on the following question: “During the pandemic and the imposing of various mandates, unions fought for the rights of workers to protect their personal freedoms and even their very employment. What role should a union play in personal freedoms vs. public health?” The PPOA Scholarship Committee, chaired by PPOA Treasurer Joyce Kato, was tasked with the difficult assignment of reviewing and scoring over 25 extraordinary applicant submissions.
One of the $1,000 scholarships available to PPOA members is named in honor of Sheriff’s Security Officer (SSO) Lars Burkhardt, who, at age 30, succumbed to cancer (EOW 3/17/2019). Lars graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), in 2010. He joined the Department in April 2012 and graduated from SSO Class #28. His last assignment, from 2016 to 2019, was at L.A. Trade Tech College. Lars was also a fantastic PPOA delegate, always advocating for the Sheriff’s Security Assistants (SSAs) and SSOs throughout the Department. In 2019, Lars’ parents generously funded a new scholarship in honor of their son, the Lars Burkhardt Memorial Scholarship. The family requested that special consideration be given to SSAs and SSOs, and at this year’s ceremony, an SSA was the proud recipient of this memorial scholarship award.
With a pandemic heading into its third year, the ongoing war in Ukraine, global supply chain disruption and inflation, among other woes, sustaining hope has become more important than ever. As I listened to the scholarship recipients at the award ceremony share their plans for their futures and what they want to contribute to humankind to those in attendance, including Los Angeles District Attorney Bureau of Investigation Chief Robert Arcos, I am reassured that there is an abundance of hope provided by our collegiate students for our county, state and nation. Perhaps this is why PPOA’s College Scholarship Program is by far my favorite event that PPOA supports annually, and the one I am proudest of.
Finally, I was immeasurably moved by one of our scholarship recipients, the surviving daughter of Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff Mike Arruda. Deputy Arruda was killed in the line of duty on June 15, 2004. Our scholarship recipient’s mother was seven and a half months pregnant with her when her father died — before he could know her and she him. Her mother, Lidia Arruda, is an active PPOA member and a sergeant with the Sheriff’s Department. From August 24, 2004, through today, Sergeant Arruda has dedicated her entire life, both professionally and personally, to ensuring that her daughter would never forget her father and would never lose hope in what her life could be by possessing the grit and resiliency to overcome such a tragic loss.
May God continue to bless our scholarship recipients and their families, and may they always stay hopeful.