Brittany Heysler believes in accountability.
The criminology and criminal justice major just completed an extensive project to help Ontario County’s STOP-DWI office research and document a list of unpaid DWI fines dating back to 1986. It turns out nearly a quarter million dollars is owed to the county by some 156 individuals convicted of DWI charges.
On Oct. 31, each defendant was sent a certified letter to their last known address – carefully researched by Heysler. But to ensure no stone went unturned, the full list of delinquent fines, with names, year of conviction and case numbers, was published by the Daily Messenger newspaper in Canandaigua a week later. WHEC-Channel 8 in Rochester also broadcast the launch of “Operation Personal Responsibility,” highlighting Heysler’s work. Those with delinquent fines have 60 days to pay in full or arrange a payment plan with the STOP-DWI office before court action begins to collect what they owe.
STOP-DWI Administrator Sue Cirencione said her office has already collected $8,000 of the total $238,533 unpaid in the first week of the public phase. Cirencione, a Keuka College Class of ‘96 graduate herself, took the helm of the STOP-DWI office in May after 10 years as a probation officer for Ontario County. She said coming in, she knew recovering unpaid fines was a significant need, given fines fund the program budget. Such a time-intensive project would probably take Cirencione alone a year or more, given the many responsibilities of her new post, she said.
Instead, Cirencione knew it would be the perfect project for an intern. Enter Heysler.
As a senior criminology and criminal justice major, Heysler is required to complete a full-semester internship of 490 hours. She already boasted three previous internships at the Sherrill, N.Y. police department in her hometown; the Oneida Tribal Indian Nation police near Canastota; and with the U.S. Marshals office in Syracuse. That’s because the Keuka College Field Period™ program requires every undergraduate to devote at least 140 hours a year to a hands-on internship, cultural study, artistic endeavor or spiritual exploration.
“When I met Brittany, I knew right away she’d be great and she’d be able to tackle this,” said Cirencione.
Eager to “take charge of a project of my own and make a difference for the county,” Heysler said she began digging through the data, spending Aug. 25 – Oct. 29 building and refining the list. She removed the names of those who had passed away, any youthful offenders, and any who had made even sporadic payments. She also ran checks on all 156 names to see if they had a valid license or any other judgment filed against them. Ultimately, the list of delinquent fines represents those who never made an effort to pay what they owed. (more…)
Editor’s Note: Where can a Keuka College degree take you? This is the second in a series of snapshot profiles on members of Keuka’s Class of 2014.
For Kelsey Tebo ’14 of Tupper Lake, a semester of study in the Fourth Judicial District of the NYS Supreme Court, which covers Franklin and Clinton Counties, pushed her towards a career in law. While there, the double criminal justice and sociology major had the opportunity to work on mortgage foreclosure cases, meeting with banks, attorneys and families, and observing paperwork procedures. She also sat in on a sex offender containment case and a two-week medical malpractice trial.
“It was the medical malpractice trial that made up my mind that I wanted to attend law school. Watching the attorneys fight for their clients, it just hit me that I wanted to be in court right next to them,” Tebo said, adding that she’s leaning toward specializing in either criminal law or medical malpractice after law school.
Supreme Court Justice John T. Ellis and the rest of his staff were “incredibly supportive,” recommending law schools she could apply to, helping her study for the LSAT (entrance exams to law school), and challenging her to “be the best I can be,” Tebo said.
That focus paid off earlier this spring when Tebo was accepted into Tulane Law School, and received a generous scholarship, according to her adviser, Dr. Janine Bower, associate professor of criminal justice. Bower also praised Tebo for outstanding academic performance, personal leadership and community service in various volunteer and extra-curricular roles.
Bower said Tebo’s eagerness to learn, understand and think critically about concepts within the fields of criminal justice and sociology was evident in her Field Period™ experiences, including one Tebo conducted at the Sunmount Developmental Center in upstate New York. There, staff work with a challenging population—convicted sex offenders with developmental disabilities—and Tebo observed patterns indicating staff burnout and depersonalization, Bower said. Tebo’s written reflections showed “significant insight” and maturity on that kind of work, the structure of the work environment, and its effects, Bower said.
“The Field Period™ and experiential learning opportunities at Keuka College directly influenced my future job opportunities and my decision to pursue law,” Tebo said.
Editor’s Note: Where can a Keuka degree take you? This is the 10th in a series of snapshot profiles on members of Keuka’s Class of 2012.
In the spring of 2012, Alex Jones of Conklin earned a Bachelor of Arts in biochemistry from Keuka College, then headed to Pace University in Lower Manhattan, New York City.
He is now halfway through a two-year program and on track to earn his Master of Science in forensic science in 2014. With degree in hand, Jones hopes to land a job in a criminal justice laboratory.
“At the graduate level, the classes are always interesting because it’s more specialized and the students learn about their interest in their chosen career field,” he said. Looking forward to classes every day, a student is more likely to walk away with a basic understanding and a drive to further develop it, he added.
According to Jones, the small class sizes at Keuka allow every student to stay engaged in c lectures and labs. Beyond that, the element he most valued was the challenge Keuka professors gave students with “tough questions to make us think like real scientists. This improved thought process has helped me become more successful in graduate school.”
Editor’s Note: Where can a Keuka degree take you? This is the first in a series of snapshot profiles on members of Keuka’s Class of 2013.
Jayme Peterson ’13 earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology and criminal justice and was hired by a private probation company, Intervention Inc., in Colorado less than a month after graduation.
According Dr. Janine Bower, associate professor of criminology and criminal justice, Peterson received the job offer after completing a semester-long internship this spring with a probation department in the 20th Judicial District, Boulder, Colo. During her time at Keuka, Peterson participated in a number of campus clubs, served as a tutor at Dundee Library and in the Academic Success at Keuka (ASK) office, was a member of the step team, and served on the Student Athletic Advisory Committee.
“This is exactly what I wanted to do after graduating college and the experience from my Field Period directly influenced my ability to obtain this job,” said Peterson, adding that she also received a job offer from one Field Period site, but turned it down because the position was partly volunteer.
The Gloversville resident said she most valued the ability to work closely with professors as an active learner and beleived Keuka’s small class sizes led to better discussions and more in-depth analysis of course material. In addition, Keuka’s Field Period program helped her practice how to research and apply for jobs, and develop confidence with professionals in her field, she said.
Conducting a 140-hour annual internship or exploratory study each year was “very valuable,” Peterson said, because it developed work experience prior to graduation and helped her confirm that working as a probation officer “was actually the right career path for me.”
At Keuka College, experiential learning is a core focus and the 140-hour annual Field Period internship is one of the primary arenas where hands-on learning comes into play.
Each year, one freshman and one upperclassman earns Experiential Learner of the Year honors for demonstrating initiative, development of a broad and varied portfolio of work, and personal reflection on the skills learned during the Field Period experience.
The six nominees for 2012 were nominated by academic advisers, created a portfolio of work in essays, photographs and other media, and were honored at a luncheon April 27. During the May 5 Honors Convocation ceremony, the winners were named: freshman Lelia Torres of Stockton and sophomore Sarah Marquart of Auburn.
Torres’s first-time Field Period experience was quite a coup, as she was the first freshman from any college or university to land a Field Period internship with the Chautauqua County Office of Probation (CCOP). (more…)