Excelsior Service Fellow
New York State Office of Mental Health, Divsision of Children and Family Services
Brooklyn resident Neckeyda Louis has always been passionate about providing services to help children. She has taught in a high needs middle school, addressed behavioral and academic issues as an Intervention Specialist for Brighter Choice Charter School for Girls, and provided services and referrals to help pregnant teens and teen parents at Urban Strategies Inc., a social services agency.
The graduate from Baruch's Master in Public Administration program says she ultimately decided to pursue a career in public policy, because it enables her to make large scale changes for the betterment of society.
"This type of public service allows me to impact society's most vulnerable populations by helping to make positive and large scale decision-making."
Recognized for her academic achievement and her work experience, Neckeyda was recently chosen by Governor Cuomo to serve as an Excelsior Service Fellow. The inaugural program allows 80 recent graduates of colleges, universities, law and professional schools to gain work experience in policy and operations for one of 41 state agencies and authorities.
Neckeyda was appointed as a Day Treatment Fellow in the New York State Office Of Mental Health's Division of Children and Family Services, where she is helping to redesign the department's Day Treatment programs to reach more children exhibiting behavioral and mental health problems.
"My responsibilities are to keep the project moving in the right direction, which includes researching, data analysis, project management, creating presentations, and working as an effective team member," says Neckeyda. She has been surprised at how much work is involved behind-the-scenes. "Many times, as a citizen using community resources and programs, you do not realize the amount of discussion and planning that goes into providing what seems like a basic service to the community."
Neckeyda credits her educational career at Baruch for giving her a great foundation in basic policy and management skills. "I learned so many life lessons and career pointers from the professors at Baruch," she says. "I am sure it is shaping my professionalism and is helping me to continue planning and preparing for future endeavors." Neckeyda advises current Baruch SPA students to apply for all programs and opportunities in their field of choice and be patient until something they feel passionately about comes along.
Neckeyda feels that her fellowship is giving her the necessary skills in the policy process to become a successful entrepreneur – her ultimate goal. She says confidently, "In the future, I will use all my experiences to develop a community-based program to enrich the lives of children."
Written by Celene McDermott