Sweeney Merrigan Law Announces First Responder Scholarship Recipient

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Sweeney Merrigan Law LLP, a personal injury law firm in Boston, is excited to announce that it has selected one outstanding candidate as the winner of their First Responders Scholarship.

Sweeney Merrigan Law LLP, a personal injury law firm in Boston, is excited to announce that it has selected one outstanding candidate as the winner of their First Responders Scholarship.

The $1,500 scholarship winner is Maria Criselda DeLeon, a certified Peace Officer for the State of Georgia who is currently employed at the Albany Police Department.

In addition to her dedication to create a safer community, Maria is a single mother of three children who is also attending the University of Phoenix to earn her degree.

The road for Maria, however, was never easy. “I grew up in a home where I witnessed domestic violence and was a victim of sexual abuse,” she says. “My mother found courage after 17 years to leave. I was six years old at the time and I became my mother’s ‘go to’ child for everything. I had to help my mother as she tried to raise us (four children) on her own.”

Her teenage years were filled with many challenges as well. “As a teenager I dropped out of high school in 2002 thinking that I finally found someone that really loved me,” Maria says. “I had my first child in 2003 at the age of 16 and in 2005 I had my second child. But after years of feeling like my life was amounting to nothing I decided to go back to school and get my GED. I obtained my GED and it felt like one of my greatest accomplishments.”

After completing her GED, she then enrolled in a technical college and signed up for a class in criminal justice. “Towards the end of the last semester of school I had to complete an internship. I completed my internship at the Moultrie Police Department. I got to experience forensic interviews, got to do ride alongs, and got to watch as the detectives conducted interrogations. I fell in love with policing immediately and decided then and there that this is what I want to do with my life.”

In 2011, she had saved enough money to put herself through the Police Academy. While at the Georgia Public safety Training Center (GPSTC) Police Academy, she had her third child and then dropped 50 lbs in an attempt to prepare her for the academy. “Nothing had completely prepared me for the academy. It was one of the greatest challenges I had ever faced but I never gave up.”

Successfully completing the police academy in October of 2011, she got her first job with the Doerun Police Department and then in 2012 was hired on by the Albany Police Department where she still is today. Maria has worked as a patrolman, in plain clothes as part of the Crime Suppression Unit, and now works as a Gang Investigator.

Even with her volume of experience, due to her lack of a four year degree however, it is hard to get a promotion. “Although I have made many accomplishments while here at the police department, I cannot advance without a minimum of a 4 year degree,” she says. “I’ve had to watch others that have come after me get promoted before me.”

That’s why in 2016, she enrolled at the University of Phoenix to get her four year degree. “Obtaining my degree will help me advance in my career. Currently I live paycheck to paycheck, and my goal is to get financially stable and provided my children with a better future.”

Because of her courage and service in the face of adversity, we are happy to assist with her in paying for her schooling and are proud to announce her as our winner of the First Responder Scholarship.

To learn more about Sweeney Merrigan Law, their services, and their commitment to a safer community, please contact them today.

Sweeney Merrigan Law
268 Summer Street, LL
Boston, MA 02210
617.391.9001

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