Mary Byron Scholars Program

 

Each year, one of the graduate students who has been selected to receive a Research Assistantship or Graduate Fellowship is also named a Mary Byron Scholar by the OPSVAW.  The Mary Byron Scholars Program was created to honor a young woman who lost her life at the hands of a violent ex-partner. 

Mary grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, one of two daughters in the Byron family. In 1993, her abusive boyfriend had been arrested for kidnapping and raping her. She had asked local law enforcement and corrections officials to alert her when he was to be released from jail as she knew how dangerous he was to her. At the time, however, no automated mechanism was available to provide her with that notification, so Mary did not receive an alert. In December of that year, Mary was leaving work with balloons and gifts that her colleagues from JC Penney had given her as they all celebrated her birthday.  Her ex-boyfriend sat in wait for her as she left work. With a handgun he had just purchased, he shot her seven times at point blank range, killing her instantly. Mary was murdered on her 21st birthday.

Mary’s death was far from the end of her story.  Local officials joined her extraordinary parents, John and Pat, to create an automated victim notification system (V.I.N.E.®), a first of its kind resource for crime victims. In 1996, Kentucky became the first state in the country to provide a statewide victim notification system. The heartbreak of Mary's death became a springboard for providing a lifesaving resource for victims and survivors all across the country.

The OPSVAW Mary Byron Scholars Program was created with a generous gift from the Mary Byron Project in Louisville, Kentucky. 

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