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AU senior explores impact of criminal justice on social work

Thu, 2013-03-07 09:11 -- univcomm
Kelsey Middaugh
March 7, 2013

Kelsey Middaugh, a senior social work major at Anderson University, is completing her senior year practicum at the Anderson Police Department in Anderson, Ind. Middaugh is using her experiences from classes and internships to help those who have suffered physically or emotionally from a criminal act.

Students who study social work at AU complete three internships between their sophomore and junior years and one practicum their senior year. “One of the unique aspects of the social work program is that we require four internships throughout the major, and they end up totaling over 500 hours in internship experience,” said Lolly Bargerstock-Oyler, assistant professor of social work.

When looking for a senior practicum, Middaugh knew she wanted to intern with the APD. "You choose your top three places you would want to be, and my first choice was the Anderson Police Department,” she said.

Middaugh previously worked with Alexandria Intermediate School, Meadowbrooke Nursing Home, and Sister2Sister, a ministry that provides transitional housing and mentoring for women recovering from incarceration. After seeing the effect the court system could have on a person’s life, Middaugh decided she wanted to learn more about the court systems, and she is using her internship to explore the impact criminal justice has on social work.

Lisa Pay, professor of social work, coordinates practicum field experiences. “The internships Kelsey has had have helped her prepare for this practicum,” said Pay. “She has been in the field with other social workers gaining valuable experience. She also has a history of doing volunteer work and paid employment that tie into social services.”

The professors also meet with the practicum field instructors and train them in the practicum objectives so the students may benefit from the experience.

“Kelsey will deepen her knowledge in the field of social work, it will help her make connections, it will help her professionally prepare for other jobs she will go into, and she will be able to work with a variety of people,” said Pay.

Although Middaugh has gained extensive experience from her internships, she credits the social work program for providing the foundation for her practicum. “I think the social work program is awesome. You don’t feel unprepared for anything,” said Middaugh. “The professors have had a huge impact on my life. I started college wanting to do my four years and that was it. Now I have applied for graduate school. They have pushed me and now I know I can do this. They have been a really good support system.”

Middaugh is excited for her time with the APD. She hopes to see the influence she can have on individuals involved with the court system through social work. “Before my first day interning with the Anderson Police Department Victim's Advocate I had never had the opportunity of going to court, let alone working humbly beside battered women and their oppressors,” said Middaugh. “I have already experienced many situations I never expected to come across in my life, and I can honestly say that through my time at AU and this internship, I am better preparing myself for the social work field. Thankfully, both have helped open my eyes to my future career, and for that I am very thankful.”

— Allison Kohl is a junior from Springfield, Ohio, majoring in communication arts. Kohl is an associate with Fifth Street Communications®, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of about 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.