COLA Connections Newsletter: Fall 2017

Student Spotlight: Keith Ericksen-- Internship with NYS Assembly

Have you ever been told you watch too much television? In Keith Ericksen's case, thanks to watching shows like Bones, NCIS, and, Cold Case, he was able to prove that sometimes, watching TV can have its benefits.

Inspired by the crime procedural and mystery shows he watched, Keith decided on a career in Criminal Justice. As a Criminal Justice major here at RIT, he was introduced to the world of politics and just how much it affects the justice system. This led him to declare a minor in Political Science. "The biggest influence on my career goals so far was taking a course on corrections with Professor Joe Williams, specifically looking at mass incarceration. It has given me a passion and different perspective on how we can turn the current criminal justice system with its flaws into a smarter, effective and less-expensive one that focuses on rehabilitating non-violent criminal offenders. We should redefine prisons as the place to keep the most serious and violent prisoners, as it should have been all along," says Keith.

His deep interest in his fields of study led him to an internship this past summer with the New York State Assembly.  This competitive internship program provides 150 students the opportunity to work closely with an Assembly member, participate in daily legislative responsibilities, and pursue research assignments that culminate in an intern mock session.  Keith worked alongside Assemblyman Charles Lavine (D- NYS 13) and focused on proposed legislation that would include veterans with PTSD in the MTA's half-fare program for seniors and those with disabilities. Delivered in ASL, Keith's speech was met with a standing ovation from his fellow interns.

Keith plans to continue his education with the MS Criminal Justice program here at RIT once he finishes his bachelor’s degree. Post-graduation, he is driven "to find a job within the state government," explains Keith. "Probably work for a lawmaker, advocacy organization or in the public administration area where I can put my analytic and research expertise to work."