Criminal Justice major Eric Watson is the 2015 recipient of the New York State Sheriff’s Association’s annual scholarship. Onondaga County Sheriff Gene Conway presented Watson with a $250 check February 18 in Mawhinney Hall.
Watson is a 34-year-old Syracuse native who attended Fowler High School. He spent 10 years working as an auto mechanic but realized he needed a change. “My heart was never really in it. My grandfather was a firefighter in Solvay for most of his life and I was always interested in some sort of public service,” Watson said.
Since arriving at OCC he has thrived in the Criminal Justice major. “Coming here has reaffirmed I made the right decision and makes me want this career even more,” said Watson. “Eric is a great student. He has a great GPA and we are very happy and excited for him,” said Criminal Justice Professor Jessica Field who oversees the scholarship program.
The need-based scholarship is awarded to the student who writes the best essay explaining why he or she needs the money and what they would do with it. Watson is putting a portion of the money toward paying the registration fee for an upcoming police exam. The age cut off for the exam is 35. It’s his one and only chance to pass it. Onondaga County Sheriff Gene Conway views Watson’s age as a strength. “Sometimes the officers who start later wind up being among the best officers because of the level of maturity they bring to the job,” said Conway.
Watson is on track to graduate in December 2015. He’s hoping to do an internship with a law enforcement agency this summer. His career goal is to become a probation officer. “I want to help people who are transitioning back into society,” he said.