Karissa Newkirk’s father worked as a police officer and corrections officer, so it was natural that she would gravitate to law enforcement as a career path. A volunteer opportunity, however, opened the Criminal Justice major’s eyes up to a different option: teaching.
“You’re really helping people and that’s something I like to do,” she said of both paths. “I really like working with young people, too.”
After she graduates from SUNY Broome in May, Newkirk plans to transfer to Binghamton University and major in Human Development. As she pursues her next degree, she will sort out her career plans. Perhaps she will even someday combine them, as Criminal Justice Professor Kerry Weber has done, she acknowledged.
Before attending SUNY Broome, Newkirk attended a different community college closer to home — SUNY Sullivan – but didn’t enjoy the experience and failed to establish a rapport with her professors. Since her boyfriend attends nearby Binghamton University, she decided to give SUNY Broome a try and was glad she did.
“My experience has been uplifting,” said Newkirk, who forged connections with both Weber and Criminal Justice Professor Leigh Morrissey, who alerted her to the many opportunities open to Broome students.
It was Professor Morrissey who alerted her to an intriguing volunteer opportunity at OASIS, an afterschool program for teens in Endicott founded by SUNY Broome alumna Holly Welfel. Established in 2006, the program provides a range of services to disadvantaged youth, from nutritional snacks, tutoring and homework help to fun activities.
Karissa volunteers daily at OASIS, often tutoring teens who need a little extra help and – when the work is done – playing games and socializing. She recommends volunteering for OASIS to fellow Hornets who want to give back and make a difference in a youngster’s life.
“I was having a rough patch in my life and I wanted to do something,” she said of her decision to volunteer. “It makes me so happy to go there.”
Newkirk also lends a hand on campus as well as a tutor to her fellow students. She conducted her first on-campus tutoring session the other day and felt it went well, she said. Overall, SUNY Broome has brought her more than academic success; it also helped her develop a love of service, teaching and giving back.
“I feel like there are a lot of opportunities. I really like it here,” Newkirk said.