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GIVING BACK

Meg Sternitzky, 2016 recipient of the Audrey J. Harris Summer Internship Award, interned at the Dane County Department of Human Services - Juvenile Justice Unit.

Majors: Legal Studies and Sociology with a Certificate in Criminal Justice

Goals: To attend law school and pursue a legal career

This summer I had the opportunity to intern at the Dane County Department of Human Services - Juvenile Justice Unit. The Juvenile Justice Unit is composed of intake and ongoing social workers. Intake workers conduct initial assessments and make court recommendations for youth taken into custody. Ongoing workers refer youth to placements and programming as well as ensure that they successfully complete their court orders. The Department works closely with various stakeholders, like lawyers, to guarantee the best possible resolution for the youth.

My experience at the DCDHS - Juvenile Justice Unit has been eye-opening and rewarding. To say that it has been valuable is an understatement. Prior to entering the internship I knew little of the juvenile justice system, but my knowledge has vastly expanded. As an intern, I have had a wide array of experiences while observing the many aspects of the criminal justice system. For instance, I have been able to witness a variety of court hearings, including: pretrial, plea, and disposition. I have assisted in conducting an interview with a youth in custody and another in a group home. I have also observed several intake interviews. Through this process, I additionally have been able to visit a residential care center, shelter, a group home, and a foster home. Moreover, I aided in filling out program referrals, such as AODA and multidimensional family therapy. However, the highlight of my internship has been helping my supervisor with a new database for the Department that will act as filing and organizing system for each worker’s case list; it has been extremely rewarding.

I would personally like to extend my gratitude to the family of Audrey J. Harris. This internship has allowed me to expand my knowledge and grow as a person, which would not have been possible without the help of the scholarship. I am honored to have been chosen as a recipient of this award. I greatly appreciate the family’s investment in the students of this program, and I hope to one day return the favor as I continue to pursue a career in the legal field.