Students in the criminal justice degree program at Minnesota School of Business-Rochester will complete an internship as volunteers with Olmsted County’s Victim Services. These criminal justice students will be volunteering as crisis line advocates for the 24-hour crisis line to provide direct support to victims/survivors and their families.
Completing an internship that provides a real picture of the daily work students will be doing in their field of study is an invaluable experience for completing any college degree. That value is not lost at Minnesota School of Business-Rochester, which, as a career college, coordinates quarterly internships for students.
Yanette Phang, who is earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, is excited about this opportunity.
“There are not enough resources to support victims, so helping an under-served population provides me with great satisfaction to know that I made at least a little bit of a difference,” Phang said.
Victim Services of Olmsted County is located in the Government Center in Rochester, Minn. Kristen Berry, Olmsted County volunteer coordinator, is working with Wanda Berg, MSB-Rochester’s chair of the criminal justice program, to build the MSB-Olmsted County internship relationship.
In order to volunteer in this capacity, students will participate in comprehensive 40-hour training on crisis response and the dynamics of sexual assault. This training includes information from a medical, law enforcement, prosecution, and corrections perspective. This is an excellent opportunity for the students to gain direct knowledge about the victim perspective on sexual assault, as well as being able to put to use some of the skills they learn in criminal justice classes.
Some of the work will include providing emotional support, referrals and information about sexual assault, and also help to identify crisis options for callers. During their shift, they will also be available to assist a victim/survivor at the hospital or with law enforcement. The experience will also shed light on what students can do with a criminal justice degree.
A key aspect of this training is understanding the technicalities of the process in order to adhere to mandated guidelines.
In particular, victim advocates/volunteers work specifically for the victim and cannot be compelled to testify or report crimes, with certain exceptions, such as a child under 16 who has been assaulted by a person in authority over them. They are there solely to support the victim/survivor in choice making and recovery.
This real-life experience will complement students’ classroom education by helping them to take the first steps into the chaotic and stressful world of the criminal justice system from a victim perspective. MSB-Rochester is excited and proud of students for their commitment to helping make a difference in our community through this volunteering. Their commitment will ensure there is a caring and compassionate voice for those who have been victimized.
For more information about this volunteer opportunity, contact Wanda Berg, criminal justice program chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 507-536-9500.