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WVPBA Scholarship Recipient Hannah Stephens


By Cindy Baugher


Hannah Stephens, jokingly referred to sometimes as Dr. Patrolman by her friends, family, and professors, recently accepted scholarships from the PBF. The Dr. Patrolman nickname reflects her long-term objective of becoming both a police officer and earning a Ph.D. She is already well on her way to both goals. Currently a student at West Virginia University at Parkersburg, Hannah is majoring in criminal justice and is on track to graduate with her bachelor’s degree in December 2023. Once she receives her undergrad degree, she is hoping to apply for a sheriff’s deputy position in her area and attend the Academy in January 2024. She is not yet sure of exactly what she’d like to do, but is thinking of crime scene technician, the K9 unit, SWAT, or FBI as possibilities. With her dad as a police officer and her role model, she’s known since the age of twelve that she wanted to work in law enforcement and protect people, too.


Hannah was homeschooled from kindergarten through her senior year and graduated from Elim Academy of Homeschool in 2021. While still a high school student, she dual enrolled at West Virginia University at Parkersburg which led to her full-time attendance there now. She calls this community college “perfect for me because of its close proximity to my house, affordable tuition, and student-oriented atmosphere.” She also points out that, “all the staff were beyond welcoming, and I absolutely love each of my professors.” 


Hannah in her cap and gown for her high school graduation


While growing up, Hannah didn’t participate in a lot of sports, but in high school discovered martial arts and immediately fell in love with it. She spent six years with the sport and earned a second-degree black belt and won multiple tournaments along the way. Hannah also took up skateboarding, although she hasn’t had much time for it recently. Briefly volunteering at a local animal rescue and helping with a suitcase drive for foster children this past spring were volunteer opportunities that Hannah enjoyed as well.


The “middle of nowhere” is how Hannah describes her hometown of Creston, West Virginia. She and her family have a great appreciation for their area in the mountains where there is “lots of room for gardens, pets, big yards, and quiet walks”. Her father, Chuck Stephens, is a Department of Natural Resources officer in charge of hunting and boating safety training in his district and has been in law enforcement for almost twenty years. Hannah speaks highly of her family members, “Even with my dad’s busy schedule, he still manages to not let it affect quality time with his family. My mom, Jessica, is my biggest cheerleader and does so much to make sure our lives are running smoothly. My little brother Jonathan is a stubborn free spirit with a mechanical mind. The dude can fix anything. And then there is my baby, a three-year-old pit bull puppy named Amadeo. His favorite things in the world are food, walks, and hunting racoons.” Aside from snuggling with her dog, Hannah also enjoys reading, playing guitar, and listening to music. 


Hannah and her dad spending time together outdoors


When asked about her favorite leader, Hannah points out that “we don’t often think about serving others as a form of leadership” but says that “it may be the most important type of leadership. In fact, it is the principle that policing is rooted in: to SERVE and protect. By serving others, we become an example that others respect and follow.” She continues, “I don’t have a favorite leader, but I have a favorite TYPE of leader and desirable leadership qualities that I identify in others.” With her dad’s life-long example of service through leadership as a police officer, Hannah realizes that policing requires hard work and dedication. She also acknowledges that a career in law enforcement is not a traditional career path for women. The children’s animated film Mulan was a source of inspiration for Hannah while growing up. Mulan’s story of sacrificing herself to save her father and fight for her country, while facing prejudice from the male soldiers she fought alongside, resonated with Hannah. She noted that “female police officers face similar prejudice today, even though we’ve come such a long way, which is why I love the moral of Mulan’s story so much”.  She also found similar enlightenment regarding her future career plans from the book Policewomen Who Made History:  Breaking Through the Ranks by Robert Snow. Hannah says this book “did a fantastic job of describing the history of female law enforcement officers and the challenges they had to overcome and are still overcoming. I highly recommend this book.”


Hannah’s academic efforts have been rewarded with a PBF scholarship for the West Virginia Division as well as a Foundation scholarship. Division scholarships are awarded to deserving applicants whose parent or stepparent is a PBA member. The Foundation scholarship is earmarked for students who are pursuing a degree in Criminology or Criminal Justice. Hannah shares “I am so grateful for these two scholarships. I have also received the WV Promise Scholarship and the Higher Education Grant, so with all three I should be able to go through my last semester without paying anything out of pocket! This will give me the opportunity to save for my future and not have to worry about finances for the fall.” As for her future, she hopes that it includes completing a criminal justice master’s program, either at American Public University or Grand Canyon University. Her eventual goal is to be the first in her immediate family to earn a Ph.D. and secure that unique title of “Dr. Patrolman.”


Natural Resources Chapter (WVPBA) President Steve Haines presents the scholarship check to Hannah Stephens. Also pictured are her parents, Chuck and Jessica.

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