Air Force veteran and criminal justice degree graduate Kayci Wendland has been motivated since high school to make a difference through her service to others.Initially a High School Advantage student at Minnesota School of Business-St. Cloud, she began early to formulate her career path in justice. She began college courses in paralegal studies then transferred to the criminal justice program to pursue a more face-to-face career experience, with a special interest in probation and restorative justice.
Wendland is currently employed as a Veterans Advocate for Pope County as a case worker in the probation department. It is a brand new position created to deal with “a long line of vets” she says need help with the court system.
She finds the job incredibly rewarding, but wishes she could see results faster. “It’s not a court-ordered process,” Wendland explains, “and a lot of vets don’t think they need help.”
She also maintains a part-time job at Prairie Lakes, a group home in Willmar.
Wendland admits it is hard for her to let go of that position. “I don’t want the girls to feel I’m another person who walks out on them,” she said.
And because apparently she has no need for sleep, Wendland continues to volunteer in restorative justice for juveniles in Swift County and at 6W Community Corrections in Chippewa County, where she completed her college internship.
“Committed” seems a bit of an understatement when describing Wendland!
Kayci Wendland has some great advice for college students preparing to graduate:
- Be Patient. Nothing comes easy. You have to work hard for your success.
- Be Prepared. Especially in your core classes. Be there and ready to learn. If you miss one class, you end up confused.
- Rely on Career Services to Help You. Interviewing can be intimidating. For the advocate position, Wendland had eight on her interview panel and two of them were judges. She urges, “Call Career Services and practice.”
Wendland’s ambition doesn’t sleep, either. After she completes her veterans’ position in about a year, she plans to return to school to become a licensed chemical dependency counselor. And after that, she wants to become a corrections officer.
A whole lot of us can probably sleep better because Wendland dedicates her career to justice.