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April 8, 2013
By Abbie Walker
The University of Nevada, Reno's criminal justice honor society, the RHO Chapter of Alpha Phi Sigma (APS), took first place in the ever-competitive Knowledge Bowl criminal justice competition at the annual conference held in Dallas, Texas last month. This year's conference had the highest team turnout in its eighth-year history with 14 teams competing for the No. 1 spot.
University student and team captain Nicholas Khamis, who is set to graduate in May and plans on attending law school or pursuing a master's degree in either criminal justice or sociology after graduation, said, "winning the award was great, but the team takes it as much more than a simple win. We had the privilege of representing the University of Nevada in a positive way among many other top-tier universities and colleges."
Andrew Giacomazzi, professor of criminal justice and associate dean of the College of Social Sciences and Public Affairs at Boise State University, created the Knowledge Bowl tournament in 2006 and has hosted the event every year since. This year, Giacomazzi took notice of the strong performance the University of Nevada, Reno team showcased.
"In all our years doing Knowledge Bowl, this year the competition was the fiercest, and the RHO Chapter at Nevada, Reno has now proven that it is the team to beat," said Giacomazzi. "The RHO Chapter students scored higher in the Knowledge Bowl finals than any other team has scored in the history of Alpha Phi Sigma's College Bowl tournament."
Team Wolfpack consisted of five undergraduates majoring in criminal justice through the College of Liberal Arts, which included: Khamis, Ryan Fitzgerald, Coleman Manson, Liliana Salas and Bryan Sanchez. Similar to Jeopardy, team members had to buzz in to answer questions rapidly fired off pertaining to criminal justice and related issues about the honor society.
"It certainly was the highlight of my college career," said Liliana, who is also graduating in May with a bachelor's of arts degree in criminal justice and a minor in substance abuse. "I think it's moments like these that do a wonderful job of showing the type of education we are receiving at Nevada. Thanks to our great professors, this would not be possible if we didn't receive the proper help in our previous criminal justice classes."
In addition to attendance at the four-day honor society conference, students were able to sit in on presentation panels held by the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, which serves as the host for Alpha Phi Sigma. Team Wolfpack also volunteered to assist in all registration activities, which spanned the entire conference, and all five students and their advisor had the pleasure of observing University Professor and former chairman of the Department of Criminal Justice Kenneth Peak present for a policing panel, Policing Trends and Challenges.
"We believe that winning the APS Knowledge Bowl further solidifies the University of Nevada's reputation as a top-tier university that can hang with any other school," Khamis said. "In short, knowing that we were able to represent something bigger than ourselves is by far the best part of this experience, and beating the other schools is just icing on the cake."
Beyond taking the title of first place, Salas was awarded a $250 scholarship, and Chapter Advisor Debi Dearman was awarded the Chapter Advisor Grant for $250.
"I love this organization and am so thrilled that they took first place in this competition," Dearman said. "They represented the University and the Department of Criminal Justice in a very professional and positive manner and had several schools wooing them with recruitment opportunities."
Alpha Phi Sigma is the only nationally recognized criminal justice honor society open to criminal justice majors and minors. The society recognizes academic excellence of undergraduate, graduate students of criminal justice, as well as juris doctorate.
For more about the conference and Alpha Phi Sigma, contact Dearman at 775-784-6201.
Abbie Walker is a graduate student writer for University Media Relations.