UAlbany Summer: CEHC Senior Interns at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration

CEHC senior Ben Marzouk sits in front of a computer in the OSI Lab at ETEC with the DEA and UAlbany UCAN website homepages behind him.
CEHC senior Ben Marzouk sits in the new Open Source Intelligence Lab at ETEC.

By Mike Nolan

ALBANY, N.Y. (Sept. 5, 2023) – Ben Marzouk is one step closer to a future career in law enforcement after a summer of hands-on experience at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Marzouk, now a senior at the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity, recently wrapped up a summer internship with the DEA’s Drug Enforcement Taskforce Division, the nation's largest and oldest drug task force.  

Over the past few months, he reported to the agency’s New York City office, working closely to support a team led by Eddy Pieszchata, ’98, MA ’99, a supervisory special agent at the DEA and a double graduate of UAlbany’s School of Criminal Justice.

The two met last year through UAlbany’s Career Advisory Network (UCAN), a free online networking tool that connects students and alumni with fellow Great Danes for career advice and insight.

“I’ve always been interested in law enforcement, particularly drug-related investigations,” said Marzouk, who grew up in Plainview, Long Island. “Last summer, I was on UCAN and connected with an alum who now works for the DEA in the New York Division. We chatted for about an hour about his career journey and my own interests.

“After staying connected, he was able to offer me a rare opportunity to work directly with his team at the DEA this summer.”

The DEA is charged with enforcing the controlled substances laws and regulations of the United States, as well as investigating domestic and international narcotics traffickers. Its task forces act as a force multiplier in carrying out the DEA’s mission through coordination and cooperation with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.

While every day of the internship was different, Marzouk was ready for the challenge. 

“No two days are alike working for a federal law enforcement agency,” said Marzouk. “While I was officially assigned to work with Eddy’s team, I was unofficially the intern for the entire floor of the agency. I’d offer help with whatever they needed, whether that meant looking up addresses of potential suspects, processing evidence, or anything else in between.”

As part of the Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity major, CEHC undergraduates are required to complete 100 hours of experiential learning prior to graduation. The college partners with various offices, agencies and centers that help to provide research and training opportunities for students throughout the year.

Prior to interning at the DEA, Marzouk participated in October’s Excelsior Challenge at the State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany, N.Y., which brought together nearly 150 law enforcement personnel and students together in a reality-based training environment to address active threat scenarios.

He also interned at the Nassau County Police Department the previous summer and is actively training with the University Police Department at UAlbany.

“For students interested in emergency management or homeland security careers, CEHC is the place to be,” Marzouk said. “Sure, you can take FEMA courses online. But being in-person, learning from many professors who were, or still are, active in law enforcement or related fields, combined with training opportunities outside of the classroom, is an invaluable experience. I’ve learned so much here.”

After graduation, Marzouk hopes to join a police academy in New York with a focus on drug-related crimes.