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Though Darrian Botts has only been a student at Eastern Kentucky University four years, she considers herself an Eternal Colonel.

The 2018 Outstanding Senior in the School of Justice Studies has spent the majority of her life on campus. Growing up, Botts recalls watching her mother, Dr. Theresa Botts, teach in the University’s Department of Psychology. She went on to graduate in 2014 from Model Laboratory School, where she competed in basketball and track. In May, she will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with a minor in psychology.

“Eastern Kentucky University has been and will always be a part of me,” she said.

Besides recognition as an outstanding senior, Botts’ achievements include earning the Madonna Marsden Award for her paper entitled “Examining the Impact of the Media’s Stereotypical Portrayal of African American Males (2015),” and being published on EKU Corrections online in 2017. She has also competed in Division I track and field events for Eastern, served as the track and field representative to the Student Athlete Activities Council and volunteered coaching track and basketball at her alma mater.

Botts considers her time on the track vital to her academic success, saying that it made her mentally tough: “As I move forward in my educational career, I feel confident that the drive that has been instilled in me as a student athlete will be the key to going the distance.”

Botts further credited her mother and father, Dwayne Botts, both of whom earned undergraduate degrees at EKU, for her accomplishments. “In watching (my mother) teach as a young child, I understood at an early age the importance of an education,” she said. “Whether it be academically or in everyday life, in having my mother’s and father’s influence and support, I have learned to champion challenge and to seize every opportunity that might come my way.”

Though opportunity has abounded for Botts, she entered the field of criminal justice to stand up for those who are not so lucky. “I knew that I wanted to choose an area of study in which I would be exposed to social justice issues, and a major that would empower me with the kind of knowledge that would enable me to become a better advocate for positive change,” she said.

She is especially interested in disproportionate minority contact with the criminal justice system and felony disenfranchisement. To help remedy those issues, she plans to study constitutional law at the University of Kentucky School of Law after graduation. “I believe that if I want to advocate for positive systematic change that it will start with the laws that govern our society.”

Themes of ambition and opportunity continued in the eternal colonel’s final advice to incoming students: “Make no little plans,” she said, echoing President Michael Benson’s motto borrowed from architect Daniel Burnham. “Think big, act bold, and be brave, because there is power in opportunity and there is opportunity at Eastern Kentucky University.”

— by Madison Harris, student writer, EKU Communications & Brand Management