TONKAWA — Shelby Sawyer comes from a long line of heroes in blue, including one grandfather who was Tonkawa Chief of Police and the other who was an officer with the Tonkawa Police Department.
“I have always been interested in how and why people commit crimes,” the Tonkawa High School graduate said, so majoring in Criminal Justice Administration at Northern Oklahoma College was an easy decision.
In addition to law enforcement, an Associate in Arts degree in Criminal Justice Administration affords career options in such areas as business, crime scene photography, education and forensics. Sawyer recently had the opportunity to experience one area of the justice system during her internship with Ponca City attorney at law Grace Yates at Holmes and Yates Law, PLLC.
Her duties included scanning documents from closed cases into the computer and filing the closed files. She also made copies and typed preceding documents. “This internship has helped me understand what a legal secretary, a paralegal and a lawyer do daily,” Sawyer commented. “I enjoyed being able to be part of the team and help prepare the necessary paperwork needed for the next case or court date. Grace always made a point to ask me how it was going and if I was learning something new.”
Sawyer gained a new appreciation for the persons working behind the scenes of the legal system. ““I have a new outlook on how our legal system works,” she said. “I thought I knew how it worked by what I saw on TV and what I have read about our legal system. I have so much respect for the people who work in our legal system and do what they can to help others in trouble.”
While she is steadfast in her decision to pursue a career in the criminal justice field, the internship has helped her to narrow her choices by making her realize that “I don’t want to be tied to a desk.”
According to Troy Cochran, NOC criminal justice faculty and Sawyer’s intern supervisor, “Often times in criminal justice there are inaccurate perceptions on what the job actually consists of versus what mainstream media and pop culture TV shows portray. I think if a student is considering a career in this field, an internship is a great way to see the reality of the field. I’m glad that Shelby had an opportunity to see the legal system at work, which caused her to make an informed career choice.”
When she has completed her Associate in Arts degree in Criminal Justice at NOC, Sawyer plans to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Early Childhood Development at a four-year institution.
Dr. Rae Ann Kruse, dean of academic services, helps NOC students obtain and complete internships. “It is exciting to assist students in combining their coursework with real-world work experience,” she said. “Companies look for graduates who have work experience and NOC helps provide that opportunity.”
For additional information on providing an internship opportunity, contact Kruse at 580-628-6341.
SHELBY SAWYER, sophomore Criminal Justice major at Northern Oklahoma College, gains knowledge of the legal system at work during her internship with Holmes and Yates Law, PLLC in Ponca City.
(NOC Photo by Rae Ann Kruse)