Debra Arnett was named Cowley College’s September Student of the Month in recognition of her work in the school’s criminal justice program and her volunteerism.

The criminal justice major from Wichita and her husband, James, have five children.

Arnett, who received her GED in 1992, decided now that her kids are older she would pursue her college education. She began taking classes at Cowley in summer 2015 after touring the criminal justice program with instructor Frank Owens.

“I was impressed with the lab and simulator room, and decided Cowley was a better option than the other schools I looked at,” Arnett said.

She began making the one-hour, 10-minute commute five days a week from her home in Wichita to attend classes at Cowley’s Arkansas City campus.

Arnett said the drive is worth it.

“It is more like a family at Cowley than it is a school,” she said. “The instructors at Cowley are so helpful any time you need them.”

At Cowley, Arnett is a member of Phi Theta Kappa and volunteer for the Upward Bound/TRIO program.

She was promoted to lieutenant in the criminal justice department, and received a 5-Percenter Award for service above and beyond the call of duty.

Arnett organized the Blue Santa event for Cowley’s criminal justice department and collected items for the school’s clothing drive.

She has a 3.8 grade-point average, and was named to both the president’s and dean’s honor rolls.

“Debra is a nontraditional student that has a passion to work with troubled youth,” Owens said. “She is a role model, in more ways than I can describe, that shows other students what it means to invest time in their future.”

Away from Cowley, Arnett serves as a Girl Scouts troop leader and is a volunteer at Lake Point Nursing Home.

She always has had a desire to help kids who have had a tough life, she said. While continuing her education, she hopes to earn an entry-level position in a juvenile detention facility and eventually become an intense supervision probation officer.

“I look at those individuals not as who they are when they come in at that point, but more as who they can be,” Arnett said.

She said the Student of the Month honor came as a surprise to her.

“I honestly feel had I chosen another school, I would not have done as well as I have done here,” Arnett said. “I feel like if I don’t do my best, I will let Frank and the other instructors down because they are always so helpful.”

After graduating from Cowley, she plans to transfer to Wichita State University and continue majoring in criminal justice.

This information was provided by Cowley College Director of Institutional Communications and Public Relations Rama Peroo.