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New Scholarship to Honor Jennifer Kesse

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By Karen Guin

Jennifer Kesse's parents have established a scholarship in honor of their daughter, a University of Central Florida graduate who went missing five years ago this month.

Drew Kesse, Jennifer's father, announced the creation of The Jennifer Kesse Criminal Justice Endowed Scholarship at a press conference today at the Fairwinds Alumni Center. He made the announcement while close family members and friends looked on.

Jennifer Kesse graduated from UCF with a bachelor's degree in Business Administration in 2003. Family members decided to establish the scholarship following their experience working with law enforcement.

"We learned that the first responders are the most important people in any crime," said Drew Kesse. "We want to turn out the best law enforcement officers who are first responders."

The new scholarship is the first to solely support students in UCF's master's degree program in Criminal Justice. Students in the program pursue one of two tracks. The Professional Track prepares participants for leadership roles in criminal justice organizations. The Research Track is for students who plan careers as criminal justice research analysts or who plan to pursue a doctorate in the field.

"We have many exceptional students in our program" said Associate Professor Ross Wolf, who directs the master's degree program. "Access to scholarship support can make all the difference in the world to those who are struggling to make ends meet."

The new scholarship is an endowed scholarship, which means the funds used to establish it are invested and the interest earnings are awarded as a scholarship.

Since no interest has accrued yet, the Kesse family provided a $1,000 gift to UCF so a scholarship can be awarded this fall. Scholarships would be funded through the endowment beginning in 2012.

At UCF, an endowed scholarship begins with an endowment of at least $25,000. The Kesse family invites friends, family members and community members to contribute to the fund.

A representative of Westgate Resort, Jennifer's employer at the time of her disappearance, contributed to the fund Friday. Several sorority sisters and community members also wrote checks after meeting with the family Friday.

"We are so grateful to this wonderful community that has shown us such great support," Drew Kesse said.

To contribute online, visit and click on "Give a Gift." Under "Donation Information," select "The Jennifer Kesse Criminal Justice Endowed Scholarship" and complete the remainder of the form.

A picture of Jennifer Kesse, drawn and donated to the family by Donnell Rector, will hang in the Department of Criminal Justice to recognize the family and the scholarship.

For more information, contact Katie Korkosz at or 407-823-1600.

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Mentioned : Ross Wolf


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