McGill chases dream

Published 6:05 am Monday, July 23, 2007

By By Adrienne McKenzie
Escambia County High School graduate Whitney McGill is proof that hard work pays off, as she has spent her summer working with Alabama's Attorney General Troy King.
McGill has always known what she wanted to be "when she grew up." She is currently pursuing her career in criminal justice.
McGill is the daughter of Steve and Janet McGill of Atmore. She graduated from ECHS in 2004 as valedictorian. While at ECHS she was a part of many different organizations and acquired many accomplishments.
"I was an honors student, secretary of the school's chapter of the National Honor Society, a Girl's State representative, a member of Youth Leadership Atmore and president of the Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors," McGill said.
Not only was she active in academics but she also had fun through cheerleading and she participated in Atmore First Assembly of God's powerhouse youth ministries.
McGill was awarded the Sara Neal scholarship to Jefferson Davis Community College and the presidential scholarship to Faulkner State Community College.
"Being familiar with the JDCC campus and having friends that graduated from there made the decision of where I would continue my education an easy one," McGill said.
McGill became involved in campus activities at JDCC. She was the president of the Rosemary Jernigan honors program and was a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. She was also chosen to represent the college as part of the All-Alabama Academic Team for 2006. She graduated from JDCC Summa Cum Laude with an associate's degree in science.
McGill then received scholarships from the University of Alabama and Troy University.
"I'm a lifelong 'Bama fan," McGill said. "But, I resided on Troy's campus during Girl's State and my father graduated from the master's program at Troy in 2000. I chose Troy, it has one of the country's best criminal justice programs."
McGill acquired many scholarships from the university including the inaugural scholarship from Atmore's American Legion Post 90, the Kenneth Law scholarship, Ortloff Law scholarship, Troy University leadership scholarship and the All-Alabama academic scholarship. She is on the Provost's List and is a Trojan All-Star football hostess.
"In April I was inducted into the Law Society, Mortar Board, which is an honor society recognizing college seniors for ability and achievement in scholarship, leadership and service, and Alpha Phi Sigma, a national criminal justice society," McGill said. "I am also a Phi Theta Kappa alumni."
All of the previous achievements and honors were a main factor in McGill being chosen to participate in the intern program at Troy. Undergraduate students must meet specific specifications before being considered for the program. The qualifications include a written application, a background investigation and a letter of approval from the university's chairman of that specific field of study.
Once a student is chosen for the internship, they must complete 125 hours of service to receive credit toward his or her degree.
"In the spring I was chosen to work in the offices of Alabama's Attorney General Troy King," McGill said.
McGill was assigned to the victim services unit and investigations. In one area of the unit, crime victims and/or their family members are represented at hearings. The officers become their voice at these hearings. McGill has not had the opportunity for action in this area, but she has been involved in the investigations process.
"For two weeks I was assigned to the Mobile offices of District Attorney John Tyson Jr. and the FBI, where I participated in a white collar crime investigation," McGill said. "The remainder of the internship has been spent in the offices of the attorney general in Montgomery, where I have continued to assist in investigations of felonies and white collar crime cases."
McGill said it is a thrill to be a part of the operations in Montgomery.
"I've always had a passion for law and I believe in justice and equality for all, even those who commit the most heinous of crimes," McGill said. "I am truly honored to be able to do this."
Law enforcement and associated careers have always been a part of McGill's life, she said.
"My father is a 25 year veteran with the State of Alabama, he worked 16 years with the Alabama Board on Pardons and Paroles," she said. "He worked as a corrections officer at Fountain and Holman prisons before he transferred to the Board of Pardons and Paroles. In 2003, while serving as a probation and parole officer in Baldwin County, he was appointed by Gov. Bob Riley to serve on a Special Parole Board formed to help with the state's prison overcrowding. His term ended in 2006. Currently he is an institutional parole officer assigned to the southern regions. My uncles Mark and Bryan have also pursued law enforcement careers."
McGill said that from watching "Cold Case Files" to attending parole hearings, the influences that helped her choose her path are obvious.
In the spring of 2008 McGill will graduate with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice with a minor in political science.
"I plan to obtain my master's degree from Troy also," McGill said. "I would like to work with the federal government in the fields of probation, investigations or victim services. I also plan to obtain law and Spanish degrees from the University of Alabama."
McGill said there are many influences that have helped her along the way and that she is thankful for those individuals' assistance throughout the years.
"I am so grateful to God for the abilities He has given me and for giving me this opportunity," she said. "I have to thank my family for their constant support, Dr. Jeffrey Lee and Dr. Ed Stevens at Troy for helping with the interning process and Mr. Danny McKinley and Mrs. Donna Cayton of the attorney general's office for making one of my dreams a reality."
McGill had advice for students in Atmore who have big dreams.
"Don't ever give up and don't let anything or anyone stop you from reaching success," she said. "And I have to say one last thing – go Trojans and go Big Blue."

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