As Southern Illinois University Edwardsville senior psychology and criminal justice double major Anna Miller, of Troy, returns to campus this week, she brings with her a wealth of new knowledge and a broadened perspective thanks to her high impact summer internship.
Miller interned with the Madison County’s Domestic Violence Accountability Court (DVAC) where she assisted advocates in the DVAC, helped with research and statistics, and observed the criminal felony dockets.
“DVAC provided me more opportunities for my future than I could have asked for at this stage in my academic career,” Miller said. “I’ve been provided the rare opportunity as an undergraduate to work individually with victims and apply my textbook education to real life situations.”
Miller aspires to be a licensed clinical forensic psychologist and work at the federal level aiding in both victim and offender assessments, designing and implementing treatment programs, and conducting research on various topics within the legal system.
Her current and future academic studies will surely prepare her for an impactful career. But, Miller says, opportunities like her summer internship add incredible value.
“No amount of assigned readings or four-hour lectures can prepare someone for the emotional component that accompanies this line of work,” she explained. “The emotional aspect of working with violent offenders and predominantly female victims was the biggest challenge I faced. But, my experience at DVAC helped me realize that my passion for justice can motivate change.”
That passion was exemplified by the professionals Miller worked with in the DVAC.
“I witnessed exhausted employees tackle each day with a positive outlook,” she recalled. “I watched as each judge treated an offender’s case with consideration. I saw attorneys speak up for victims who felt they couldn’t. The patience, focus and dedication within these individuals are undervalued.”
“I simply cannot show enough appreciation to those who I’ve met,” emphasized Miller. “I’d specifically like to thank my supervisor, Ann Langenstein, for allowing me this outstanding opportunity. Her wisdom, passion and energy were the inspiration I didn’t know I needed.”
“Anna was a wonderful addition to our court this summer. She was a delight to work with, and we hated to see her go,” said Langenstein, judicial assistant and DVAC Project Manager in the Third Judicial Circuit.
School of Education, Health and Human Behavior Interim Dean Paul Rose, PhD, notes that it’s this type of community connection that amplifies the impact of high-quality student internships. He calls them a win-win-win.
“Through internships, the student gets to see academic concepts in a real-world setting while acquiring work experience,” Rose explained. “Meanwhile, the cooperating agency gets assistance from the intern with its programs and experience working with students who may interview later for job openings. And, the University gets to prove its value as an intellectual center that enhances quality of life in the region.”
“We’re very excited to partner with SIUE in providing students an opportunity to get hands-on experience in the criminal justice system,” Langenstein added.
With her internship completed, Miller is increasingly motivated to further her education and career preparation during her final undergraduate year.
“I find it fascinating the way people can differ in their perception and behavior within similar situations,” Miller said on her decision to double major. “The impact that can be made through a manipulation of various factors is incredible and potentially life changing. I want to extend this power of psychology within our criminal justice system.”
Photo: SIUE senior Anna Miller completed a high impact summer internship with Madison County’s Domestic Violence Accountability Court.