Student Networks with Top Retail Security Executives

Security Studies Student Thomas Abi-Hanna
Security Studies Student Thomas Abi-Hanna

A junior at Sam Houston State University was awarded a scholarship to the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) annual convention in Orlando, which will allow him to network with loss prevention executives from major corporations across the country.

Thomas Abi-Hanna, a criminal justice major, was among five undergraduate and graduate students to participate in the 2013 College Student Program. Abi-Hanna will get to work with corporate and store level employees from 7-Eleven, Inc. and Cabela’s Inc. on a research project that will be presented at the conference on “Customer Rights, Customer Service and Asset Protection in a Mobile Point-of-Sale (POS) World.”

Photo of retail scanner“Given the industry’s focus on the risks associated with emerging POS technologies, this is a timely and relevant research project that should lead to some interesting insight,” said Lisa LaBruno, Senior Vice President of Retail Operations for RILA.

RILA is the trade association of the world’s largest and most innovative retail companies and include more than 200 retailers, product manufacturers and services suppliers, such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Big Lots Stores, Dick’s Sporting Goods, J.C. Penney’s, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Walgreen and Wal-Mart. Together they account for more than $1.5 trillion in annual sales, millions of jobs, and more than 100,000 stores. The annual meeting will be held April 28-May 1.

“We were very excited to hear that Thomas Abi-Hanna was awarded this prestigious scholarship,” said Dr. Holly Miller, Associate Dean for Academic Programs in the College of Criminal Justice. “He is a bright, dedicated, and hard-working student who will represent our College and University very well. It is a wonderful opportunity for him.”

Abi-Hanna would like to pursue a career in security or federal law enforcement. He is interested in pursuing white collar crime.

Store security guard“I want to provide public service protection through the government or by protecting people through private interests,” said Abi-Hanna. “I am very interested in white collar crime and fraud. With street crime, it’s bang-bang-bang and very physical. With fraud, there are millions of dollars transacted and the intelligence aspect draws me in. I like that better than just arresting people.”

Abi-Hanna already has access to top level security executives at 7-Eleven and Cabela’s to get insight for his project. He looks forward to networking with other top security specialists at the conference.

“This is going to help me with my career,” said Abi-Hanna. “The two biggest things I am looking for is knowledge and networking.”

To qualify for the scholarship, Abi-Hanna, who is minoring in Middle Eastern Studies, had to submit a resume, a two-page essay and two letters of recommendation. Abi-Hanna is active as the Vice-President of the Alpha Phi Sigma Criminal Justice Honor Society and helped develop the new Association of Certified Fraud Examiners at Sam Houston State University, a multi-disciplinary student organization for those interested in careers as anti-fraud specialists in government, insurance, investigations, white collar crime and cybercrime. He has been involved in numerous community service projects, including highway cleanups, Saturdays@SAM, the Fall Festival, SAAFE House domestic violence shelter, Court Appointed Special Advocates and church activities.

“I believe criminal justice is public service and I believe in giving back,” said Abi-Hanna.

Abi-Hanna plans to attend graduate school in International Affairs or Security Studies.


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