Matthew Pavelka Scholarship Awards Program

The Matthew Pavelka Scholarship Awards Program was established in honor of Burbank Police Officer Matthew Pavelka, who was killed in the line of duty on November 15, 2003.


The purpose of the Matthew Pavelka Scholarship is to:

  • Provide an award for high-school seniors who have demonstrated outstanding effort in pursuit of a vocational goal
  • To motivate students to dedicate themselves more thoroughly and responsibly to their education or training
  • To encourage students to strive for excellence and distinction in whatever they undertake

There was never a question as to the career path that Officer Matthew Pavelka would follow. After high school, he joined the Air Force, but only because he was too young to enroll in a police academy. He served for five years as a military policemen, received an associate of arts degree in criminal justice, and was intent on further pursuing his education in his chosen field, until he was tragically killed while performing his duty.

How to Apply:


The Matthew Pavelka Scholarship Awards Program was established after Burbank Police Officer Matthew Pavelka tragically lost his life to gun violence on November 15, 2003.  He was responding to a request for backup from fellow Officer Greg Campbell, who was also gravely wounded. The entire community was devastated.

Within 24 hours of the incident, our community responded with an abundance of generosity. The kindness and support from businesses and residents of Burbank, as well as our surrounding communities, was overwhelming.

Officer Pavelka’s parents, Mike and Sue Pavelka, graciously requested that all donations be used for the development of future leaders, in honor of their son, whose big dreams were extinguished too soon, too suddenly, and too violently.

The Matthew Pavelka Scholarships are awarded to high school seniors who have demonstrated outstanding effort in pursuit of a vocational or education goal, students who have exemplified self-discipline and have distinguished themselves amongst their peers as deserving of high honors.  Through these future leaders, Matthew Pavelka’s legacy lives on.

Each recipient is awarded $2,000 upon official proof of completion of First Quarter/Semester at a recognized junior college, accredited college or university, public or private, offering academic, or vocational courses leading to a secondary education.

Rhett Gordon, Burbank Police Officers’ Association

Vahan Koshkaryan, Burbank High School

Gunnar Sizemore, Providence High School

Reece Adams, John Burroughs High School

Nicole Mai, John Burroughs High School

On November 15, 2023, the Burbank Police Foundation marked the 20th anniversary of Officer Matthew Pavelka’s tragic passing with over 250 in attendance. Distinguished public figures, dignitaries, and community members gathered including former Police Chief Tom Hoeffel, former Fire Chief Mike Davis, as well as esteemed representatives of St. Joseph ER team, Dr. Selena Barbara Simic and her husband Peter Simic. These were the leaders of the respective departments the day of the shooting. As a stunning remembrance of that day, we were honored to have Officer Campbell who was at the scene with Matthew on the day of the tragic event.

Officer Pavelka’s parents, Mike & Sue Pavelka, as well as recipient of the Matthew Pavelka Scholarship, Alia Embleton unveiled the commemorative plaque. Ms. Embleton is the daughter of our Air Support Pilot, Sergeant Jason Embleton who performed the Air Support salute at the event.

LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger led the attendees in the flag salute. The Burbank Police Honor Guard raised the flag for the first time at the dedicated flagpole in Officer Pavelka’s memory serenaded by the Los Angeles Police Emerald Society Pipes and Drums playing ‘America the Beautiful’ and ‘Amazing Grace.’ President of the Burbank Police Foundation, Mr. Michael Hastings delivered a moving speech as he described the day of Officer Pavelka’s passing as ‘one of the most emotional day’s of his life.’

The event concluded with a reverential procession with the Burbank Police ‘Baker to Vegas’ running team under police escort, back to Burbank Police headquarters—a poignant homage to Matthew.

Thank you to everyone who attended this solemn remembrance of an outstanding officer, beloved son, and compatriot. A special thank you to our generous donors for the commemorative plaque and dedicated flagpole.

We will always remember Matthew Pavelka and as Michael Hastings stated at the end of his words: “𝐋𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐩 𝐢𝐬 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐨𝐧𝐥𝐲 𝐚 𝐩𝐫𝐢𝐯𝐢𝐥𝐞𝐠𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐞𝐧𝐣𝐨𝐲𝐞𝐝 𝐛𝐮𝐭 𝐚 𝐟𝐫𝐚𝐠𝐢𝐥𝐞 𝐠𝐢𝐟𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐞𝐱𝐞𝐫𝐜𝐢𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐞𝐥𝐥 𝐛𝐞𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐨𝐟 𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐬.”