Sheriff’s Scholarship Winner

Onondaga County Sheriff Gene Conway (left) presents OCC Criminal Justice major Brittney Hickey (right) with the New York State Sheriff’s Association’s scholarship.

Brittney Hickey is working non-stop to achieve her career goals. She’s raising two children, working nights at the Elmcrest Children’s Center and is a full-time student in OCC’s Criminal Justice major. Earlier this week she was rewarded with a visit from Onondaga County Sheriff Gene Conway who presented her with the New York State Sheriff’s Association’s annual scholarship.

Hickey has a background in law enforcement. She previously worked as a corrections officer in North Carolina. The experience was eye-opening. “I didn’t like the way corrections officers and staff were treating the people there. Even though they are inmates, they’re still human beings and I have morals. I thought, ‘I can actually help people when they get out of this situation if they’re willing to push for it.’”

Based on her experience, Hickey decided she wanted to become a probation officer and enrolled in OCC’s Criminal Justice major in the spring of 2017. After a year on campus she’s convinced she made the right choice. “The teachers here make it easy to understand things. They have a level of experience which really helps them teach you.”

Criminal Justice Professor Jessica Field says Hickey is very deserving of the scholarship. “She is a great student who is focused on her career goal. She is an extremely hard worker who puts her education right up there with work and raising her two children. Without a doubt, she will succeed in the criminal justice field.”

Hickey says she will use the money from the New York State Sheriff’s Association’s scholarship to pay for her classes this summer. Her goal is to earn her degree in May 2019.

Sheriff’s Association Scholarship Winner

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.