In some senses, it seems natural that Elena Honovich should aspire to become a police officer.
Her uncle and brother served in the military, and her grandfather fought in World War II. She has always been fascinated by uniforms and those who wear them and, as she puts it, “being disciplined runs in my blood.”
But in her native Moldova, that dream was out of reach.
“I always wanted to be a police officer, but back in Europe it’s a very difficult process and police officers are not respected,” said Honovich, who came to the United States in 2012.
As she leads the Business and Professional Services division during Commencement 2018, Honovich will be one step closer to achieving that dream.
“I’m excited! I’m a student marshal, so I can’t wait to put on my golden robe,” she said.
‘I met a lot of good people’
The political and economic situation are difficult in Moldova, a small Eastern European country that was once part of the Soviet Union, Honovich acknowledged.
Elena had wanted to come to the United States since she was 15 years old, and took part in an exchange program that allowed her to work and travel in the United States for a summer. She cherished the chance to see New York City, a city she came to love and, for a while, call home.
“I met my husband and the rest is history,” she said.
While she had studied psychology and educational success in her homeland, the United States opened a new realm of educational possibilities. A friend graduated from SUNY Broome’s Criminal Justice program and Honovich decided to follow suit.
College could be challenging at times, and occasionally Honovich had to translate her coursework into her native Romanian and back to English. Like many Europeans, she is a polyglot.
“I know four languages and I’m learning a couple more. Over there, we are encouraged to learn more languages,” she said. In fact, she’s learning Spanish this semester.
She opted to major in Homeland Security, appreciating the range of subjects covered in the coursework. In her final semester, in addition to Spanish, she is taking classes in forensics, hazardous materials, criminal procedure, constitutional law, and fitness.
Favorite professors include Criminal Justice and Emergency Services (CJES) instructors Mary and Steven Yurenda, who have backgrounds in the New York State Police, as well as Professor Darin Schmidt. Professor James Sheerin has also been a supportive mentor and guide.
Honovich particularly loves classes with labs, and the opportunity to explore concepts in a hands-on way, she said. One of the first lab classes she took was criminal investigations, which inspired her love of forensics.
After graduation, she will transfer to Excelsior College to earn her bachelor’s degree in investigative forensics, and then seek work in the field. Police work is preferable, but careers in an embassy or in a forensics lab are on the table, too.
A member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, Elena Honovich is also busy outside the classroom. She and her husband own a restaurant, Food Fusion Bar and Grill, in Endicott.
While she juggles work with her studies like many students, she is glad she made the commitment to education and her future.
“I met a lot of good people here,” she said. “I never expected to be able to graduate in the United States.”