Downtown

Kings County internship program celebrates 34 years: offers students ‘the opportunity of a lifetime’

July 8, 2024 Wayne Daren Schneiderman
Hon. Robin K. Sheares (in glasses), along with interns (from left): Samia Uddin, 23; Tom Mixartiles, 19; Nya Dos Santos Pantin, 20; David Muccigrosso, 16; and Ali Malik, 17. Photo by Wayne Daren Schneiderman
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DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — The Kings County Courts Izetta Johnson Internship Empowerment Program, formerly the Summer Youth Employment Program, is celebrating its 34th year of shaping the minds of young people looking to launch a career in the field of law.

On Monday, July 1, an orientation was held at the Supreme Court on 320 Jay St., welcoming 57 high school and college students slated for internships this summer.

The Kings County Student Youth Empowerment Program 2024 participants; and (seated) Hon. Deborah A. Dowling (second from left), Jennifer Franchimene Joly, Nicole B. Smith, court clerk specialist, and Hon. Robin K. Sheares. Photo by Wayne Daren Schneiderman
The Kings County Student Youth Empowerment Program 2024 participants; and (seated)
Hon. Deborah A. Dowling (second from left), Jennifer Franchimene Joly, Nicole B. Smith,
court clerk specialist, and Hon. Robin K. Sheares. Photo by Wayne Daren Schneiderman

The goal of the six-week program, which is taking place from now through Aug. 8, is to expose the interns — who range in age from 16 to 25 — to the myriad of professions the court system has to offer.

Workshops and seminars will also be available that cover resume writing, interview techniques and tips on financial planning. 

Hon. Claudia Daniels-DePeyster. Photo by Wayne Daren Schneiderman
Hon. Claudia Daniels-DePeyster. Photo by Wayne Daren Schneiderman

Hon. Deborah A. Dowling, one of the administrators of the program, said that she is thrilled to carry on the vision of Izetta Johnson and be a part of something that brings students into the courthouse to learn the importance of professionalism and how to function effectively in a work environment.

Hon. Deborah A. Dowling. Photo by Wayne Daren Schneiderman
Hon. Deborah A. Dowling. Photo by Wayne Daren Schneiderman

Johnson was an employee of the New York State Unified Court System for 35 years. And as a trainer and manager of the Court’s Equal Employment Opportunity Office, she ultimately developed the aforementioned youth program in 1989.

“We’ve had more than 1,500 interns come through our Kings County Courts in Brooklyn over the past 30-plus years,” Dowling pointed out. “Feeding the minds of young interns and giving them experience within the court system is what this is all about.” 

From left: Nicole B. Smith, court clerk specialist, alongside Hon. Deborah A. Dowling. Photo by Wayne Daren Schneiderman
From left: Nicole B. Smith, court clerk specialist, alongside Hon. Deborah A. Dowling. Photo by Wayne Daren Schneiderman

Dowling noted the diverse nature of a career in law, stating, “You could become a court officer, a court attorney, a clerk, an IT professional or, ultimately, a judge. We also have various outside agencies that work with the courts as well. There are so many opportunities within the court system.”

Deputy Borough President (Kings County) Rev. Kimberly Council, who was also in attendance at the event, referred to this internship as “the opportunity of a lifetime.

Deputy Borough President (Kings County) Reverend Kimberly Council. Photo by Wayne Daren Schneiderman
Deputy Borough President (Kings County) Reverend Kimberly Council. Photo by Wayne Daren Schneiderman

“It’s things that most people only dream of,” Council said as she addressed the crowd. “It’s up to you to make the most of this summer and strive to be excellent. Bring your best self to work each and every day. Push yourself; never give the bare minimum.” 

Also speaking at Monday’s program were two administrative judges and two Supreme Court officers. They discussed their backgrounds and experience in the court system and also offered the youngsters in the audience words of encouragement.   

Supreme Court Officers Maria Ramos and Sheldon Charles. Photo by Wayne Daren Schneiderman
Supreme Court Officers Maria Ramos and Sheldon Charles. Photo by Wayne Daren Schneiderman

“You never know where your life will take you,” explained Hon. John T. Hecht. “So try to pursue what is meaningful to you and what you are most interested in. You have to see where your soul is and what feeds you.” 

Hon. John T. Hecht. Photo by Wayne Daren Schneiderman
Hon. John T. Hecht. Photo by Wayne Daren Schneiderman

Hon. Matthew D’Emic said what you will learn with this program you can carry with you for the rest of your life.

Hon. Matthew D’Emic. Photo by Wayne Daren Schneiderman
Hon. Matthew D’Emic. Photo by Wayne Daren Schneiderman

“You’ll absorb a lot from working here. You’ll learn what you like and what you don’t like. And these are all valuable, growing experiences.” 

Hon. Robin K. Sheares, who also plays a role in the internship program — although she modestly referred to herself as a “background person” — said, “This is simply the best program out there for summer youth.”

Fifty-seven interns attended Monday’s program. Photo by Wayne Daren Schneiderman
Fifty-seven interns attended Monday’s program. Photo by Wayne Daren Schneiderman

“Once they come through these doors, they are family forever,” Sheares said.  


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