South Georgia Technical College’s Prokesh awarded Smarr-Smith Criminal Justice scholarship

May 11, 2021
Shown above is SGTC Smarr-Smith Scholarship recipient Christopher J. Prokesh of Leesburg.
Shown above is SGTC Smarr-Smith Scholarship recipient Christopher J. Prokesh of Leesburg.

Americus, GA – South Georgia Technical College Criminal Justice Technology student Christopher J. Prokesh of Leesburg was awarded the Smarr-Smith Law Enforcement/Criminal Justice scholarship recently by the South Georgia Technical College Foundation.  

    The Smarr-Smith endowed scholarship at South Georgia Technical College was created in memory of fallen Americus Police Officer Nicholas R. Smarr and Georgia Southwestern State University Campus Safety Officer Jody C. Smith.  The endowment was created by the Smarr-Smith Foundation, private individuals, and an anonymous donor.  Both Nicholas Smarr and Jody Smith attended the criminal justice program at South Georgia Technical College.

   Christopher J. Prokesh is a career law enforcement officer, currently employed by the Leesburg Police Department where he has served in a full-time Georgia Sworn LEO capacity for the past 24 years.  He was one of the numerous officers sent by the Leesburg Police Department to assist Chief Scott, the City of Americus, and the GBI with the all-night manhunt when Nick Smarr and Jody Smith were killed in December of 2016.

   He decided to return to South Georgia Technical College to earn his Criminal Justice Associate of Applied Science degree.  “Chis is a great student.  I am very proud of him and I appreciate how hard he works,” said Teresa McCook, SGTC Americus Criminal Justice Instructor.  “He is exactly the type of student that this scholarship was meant to help.”

   Prokesh was the son of a single mom growing up in a mobile home park. He joined the Albany Police Department right after high school at the age of 19.  “It goes without saying that law enforcement is not a ‘get-rich’ profession.  I have spent many years living paycheck to paycheck and picking up every part-time security gig that I could get.  Up until now, I have never been able to afford pursuing college, but with the recent promotion and the help of the HOPE program, I am pinching pennies and self-funding myself through school.  I have spent the last two years as a non-traditional student with South Georgia Technical College where I have maintained a 4.0 GPA.  With the assistance of the Smarr-Smith Scholarship, I want to continue advancing my education,” said Prokesh.

    Robert Alexander, CEO of the City of Leesburg, highly recommended Prokesh for the scholarship.  “I would like to recommend Christopher Janes Prokesh of the City of Leesburg Police Department for this scholarship.  He is a Georgia P.O.S.T. certified law enforcement officer and has been with the City of Leesburg Police Department for 24 years and has made a career of service to our community.”

   CEO Alexander also shared that during the past two years, the City of Leesburg has had “six of its 16-man staff enter the Criminal Justice Program at South Georgia Tech and that Christopher has led by example.  He has worked incredibly hard in advancing his education at South Georgia Technical College.”

    South Georgia Technical College President Dr. John Watford thanked the Smarr and Smith families and others for their support of this scholarship. “We all regret that this scholarship opportunity had to come at the expense of the lives of two outstanding South Georgia Technical College students and law enforcement officers,” said Dr. Watford.  “Our hearts will continue to go out to the family and friends of Officers Smarr and Smith.  But it is our prayer that this gift will assist other POST certified officers who wish to continue their education. We hope that the fine men and women who earn these scholarships will honor the memories of Officers Smith and Smarr through their service to our citizens and that the memory of Nick Smarr and Jody Smith will continue to live on through the lives of these scholarship recipients.”

    Nicholas Smarr and Jody Smith, both attended the South Georgia Technical College Criminal Justice Program.  Smarr attained his Associate of Applied Science Degree in June of 2011 and became a certified law enforcement officer in 2012.  Jody Smith had attended South Georgia Tech in 2010 and had returned in 2016 to begin completing his Criminal Justice associate degree.

   Seventeen Smarr-Smith scholarships have been awarded since the scholarships were endowed.  Charles Kinnamon and Adam O’Neal were the first two scholarship recipients. King W. Mitchell, Antoinette L. Johnson and Emerson R. Lundy were the second three recipients. Dalton Lee Windham and Cora K. Baker were awarded the scholarships in December 2018. Brandon Glover, April Cosby, and Matthew Pearce were the Smarr-Smith scholars in 2019.  Amneh Laursen, Chris Owens, Monteze McCall, Cedric Smith, Chandler Buchanan and David Rueda-Fierros were the 2020 scholars and Christopher Prokesh is the first student to receive the award in 2021.

   For more information about donating to the SGTC Foundation or endowing a scholarship at South Georgia Technical College, contact Su Ann Bird, Executive Director of the SGTC Foundation and Vice President of Institutional Advancement, at 229.931.2110 or  Contributions may also be mailed to the SGTC Foundation, P.O. Box 6102, Americus, GA.   Additional donations can be added to the Smarr-Smith Scholarship fund and all donations will be recognized and shared with members of the Smith and Smarr families.