In my junior year, the Adams Center offered me an opportunity to intern with a national organization called Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), which has offices in several of the local counties here in Central Pennsylvania. CASA’s primary mission is to work within the legal system to provide volunteer support to abused or neglected children caught up in the legal system, and aid the court in determining specifically what is in their best interest.
I was fortunate to make connections and gain hands-on experience in the legal field through my attendance at court hearings and my ongoing interactions with CASA volunteers, clients, foster families and members of the court work group. In the office, I typically worked to incorporate information contained in court petitions, orders and other data into CASA’s electronic database. In doing so, I became increasingly conversant with legal language and familiar with all types of legal documents and what each is intended to do. I was also responsible for making contact with various service providers in the area and obtaining clients’ school and medical records. As a part of my work for CASA this summer, I will be going on home visits to monitor kids’ status and interview their parents.
My internship provided a kind of learning experience that isn’t available to students in a traditional classroom setting. It definitely took patience, dedication and tough skin to deal with some of the situations I saw during my work with CASA clients this semester. Nevertheless, it enhanced my classroom education, giving me a chance to apply what I’ve learned in my psychology and legal studies courses to understand the real-world situations many of CASA’s kids and their families are facing. Seeing how the legal system works and how children navigate through it has inspired me to dedicate my future to kids who have suffered abuse and neglect. Moreover, the CASA internship has helped to reinforce my career plans to specialize in family law or to practice in the field of child psychology. Whichever path I take, I look forward to making a difference in the lives of children and teens so desperately need support and someone who cares.