Alisha Hayes
Alisha Hayes

When Alisha Hayes first applied to SUNY Broome, she had no idea the college had an Honors Program or what it entailed. Told that her grades at Windsor High School were high enough to qualify, she decided to go for it – and she’s glad she did.

“I absolutely love it. The Honors seminar class, that’s where I first started meeting the people that became my friends on campus,” she said. “The way we think about things and how it challenges me to think deeper – that’s what I love.”

The Honors Program offers a wide range of classes across all academic disciplines, which encourages students to consider different ways of looking at the world. In Alisha’s first-semester Honors Seminar course, she and her classmates tackled a timely question from different perspectives: When does a violent thought manifest as violent action? 

A classmate with an interest in psychology sought to answer the question from that angle. Alisha, a Criminal Justice-Corrections major, looked at the influence of the media, and how exposure to violence through the media can affect both mental and physical health.

She also considered discussions she had in her juvenile justice class. Some of her classmates from big cities talked about the violence they saw at school – an experience far different from her own, growing up in a rural community. Those insights showed her the impact of upbringing and environment on violence – and how different disciplines can converge to solve complex issues.

“It shows how everything we learned in college can come together to solve one problem,” she said.

Challenge yourself! Learn more about SUNY Broome’s Honors Program.

Making connections

Alisha chose SUNY Broome because it’s close to home, and gave her the opportunity to explore whether criminal justice was the right path for her — at an affordable cost.

Back in Windsor, her friends have family members in law enforcement, and she enjoyed listening to their stories. Initially, she considered a career in law and embarked on an internship at the law firm Hinman, Howard & Kattell starting in her senior year of high school. 

She worked closely with lawyers there, and finished her internship with a project that she then presented to her bosses; it outlined the creation of a new position that would save the firm money in the long run. They ended up creating that post and she applied, ultimately landing the job. She still works at the law firm, heading there every day after class and on Thursday mornings.

While she enjoys her job at the law firm, she realized that her ultimate career goals put her more on the enforcement side.

“You’re not dealing with the same thing every day. Something new is always going to happen and you will always have new challenges to face,” she said of her interest in law enforcement.

Learn about Criminal Justice – Corrections at SUNY Broome.

Initially, she found college a bit of a culture shock, but that faded as she made friends in her classes. She also connected with peers through the Criminal Justice & Emergency Services Student Association, which does community service and road marshalling at events throughout the county, as well as other events pertinent to their field.

So far, Alisha has ridden along with the Broome County Sheriff’s Office and visited a maximum security prison in Auburn. Both opportunities elicited her interest in law enforcement, and she finds herself torn: should she pursue a career as a detective, or as a corrections officer?

She has a while to decide. When she graduates from SUNY Broome in May 2021, she plans to pursue her bachelor’s degree; Alfred State and SUNY Farmingdale are both options, although she is also interested in Taylor University in Indiana. After the bachelor’s degree, then it’s off to the law enforcement academy – whether she opts for police work or corrections.

Currently, her favorite professors include Leigh Martindale in Criminal Justice & Emergency Services, Jesse Boring in psychology and Jesse Katen, her Honors seminar instructor. Maureen Breck, who coordinates the Honors Program, was also a helpful guide.

She particularly appreciates their positivity. “It’s nice to have professors who are upbeat. It makes your day go better,” she said.

While Alisha Hayes is just starting out at SUNY Broome, she is glad that she chose to explore her options close to home, and to challenge herself in the Honors program.

“It’s been a great experience. I really look forward to next semester already,” she said.

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