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TWINSBURG -- The legacy of the late Twinsburg Police Officer Joshua Miktarian lives on through the annual scholarship program bearing his name, which awards a graduating high school senior from Twinsburg and another from Tallmadge $3,500 each to pursue careers in law enforcement.
This year's recipients were Jimmy Louka of Twinsburg and Garrett Fleming of Tallmadge.
Scholarship-eligible students must be willing to pursue a career in law, such as criminal justice, law enforcement, law school or a related field in an accredited two- or four-year educational institution, said Holly Miktarian, Joshua's widow.
This is the ninth year for the scholarships.
"We are very proud of how far the scholarship has come," Holly said. "It's like having another child. It's a labor of love."
Louka, who graduated May 23 from Twinsburg High School, will attend Walsh University in the fall.
He said he "felt honored and proud to be given this prestigious award."
"We knew of [Officer Miktarian], so it meant a lot to be recognized by his wife," Louka said. "I hope to use this to make a difference in the future."
Policing and law have "always been an interest of mine," Louka said, adding that he plans to study sociology with an emphasis on criminal justice.
Ultimately, Louka said he would like to serve as a police officer.
"I want to stay in Twinsburg and become a police officer," Louka said. "I want to give back to the community. I've been here my whole life. I was born here, raised here and I would like to give something back to the community."
Louka is a member of the Twinsburg Police Explorers Group 945 and a member of Boy Scouts of America.
In addition to the Miktarian scholarship, Louka received a $1,000 scholarship from the Rotary Club of Twinsburg.
Fleming graduated from Tallmadge High School May 18 and is looking to attend Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania in the fall for its Homeland Security program, via a focus on criminal justice. Eventually, Fleming said he would like to work for the Customs and Border Protections, and perhaps with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in disaster relief.
"My dad has been a police officer for just about 30 years," Fleming said. "Seeing how much he enjoyed helping people and seeing how I have similar interests pushed me to criminal justice."
"Shocked" was Fleming's reaction when he said he heard that he had received the scholarship.
"I was definitely surprised I was picked," he said. "I know a couple others in my class who are planning to go into criminal justice, although I don't know if they applied."
Fleming was a member of the Criminal Justice Career program as Blue Devil and was in National Honor Society. He is an Eagle Scout and was the team captain for the robotics club. In addition, Fleming also worked at the Riverfront YMCA as a coach and referee for basketball and soccer.
As well as the Miktarian scholarship, Fleming received a $2,500 scholarship from the Tallmadge Historical Society, and he has been offered financial aid through Slippery Rock University.
Joshua Miktarian was a 1993 graduate of Tallmadge High School and worked as a K-9 officer for the Twinsburg Police Department for 11 years. He was shot and killed following an early morning traffic stop on Glenwood Drive July 13, 2008. He was the first police officer to be killed in the line of duty in Twinsburg.
The largest annual fundraiser for the scholarship foundation is the Miktarian Poker Run, set for July 26 this year, Holly said. Visit josh45.com for details on this event.
The Twinsburg Police Association, which organizes and assists with both the Poker Run and the scholarships, will also host a golf outing in support of the scholarship foundation July 14.
Visit www.mytwinsburg.com for details.