Assistant Editor, Fraud Magazine
I’ve been at the ACFE for almost three months, and I’m still in the middle of a deep learning curve. The latest subject was the Ritchie-Jennings Memorial Scholarship. Events planner Ashlee Beck-Hanna (see my profile of her in the upcoming May/June Fraud Magazine) asked me to write articles about two past recipients, and I was struck by how quickly they responded to my interview request. One, Monica Hostetler, is a full-time student on a fast-track to an MBA; the other, Kerri O’Donnell, is earning her Ph.D. and teaching at the University of Tasmania in Australia.
The Ritchie-Jennings Memorial Scholarship is named after two CFEs, Tracy Ritchie and Larry Jennings, who were killed by terrorists in Pakistan when they were on a business trip. Some good came from this horrible tragedy, as the ACFE awards 30 college accounting and criminal justice students scholarships ranging from $1,000-$10,000. That may not sound like a lot of money to some people, but to these students, it can make a difference between barely keeping their heads above water and catching that break they really needed. O’Donnell used hers to buy textbooks (always expensive) and get an Internet connection so she could work and study from home, which was critical at the time since she was a single mom of two young daughters. Hostetler is attending a private college and really needed the help with tuition.
But the scholarship is more than just a check. Hostetler was thrilled that ACFE President and CEO James D. Ratley, CFE, took the time to fly in for the presentation and visit with her, along with other past recipients. That personal touch really made a lasting impression.
I also was struck by the passion these recipients have for their fields. These are not long-time fraud-fighters who’ve seen it all; they’re just starting out, yet already have a fire in their belly to fight the injustice that fraudsters perpetuate. It makes me feel better knowing that the ACFE is helping to guide and assist these students – we need all the fraud-fighting heroes we can get.