• Becca W.

In the Spotlight: Interns!




What school do you go to and what program are you in?

My name is Keyana and I attend Minneapolis Community and Technical College in the Human Services program. After I’m done at MCTC I’d like to go to either the University of Minnesota or Metropolitan State University to get my Bachelor of Social Work.

What other background/experience do you bring with you to Sojourner?

I’ve worked in the community a lot. I’ve worked in a nursing home. I was a foster mom. I’ve worked with children, teens and elderly adults. All ages! I worked at City INC and was part of a program where we talked about safe sex with young people. Many of my students had HIV and I helped to counsel them in regards to their mind frame around having HIV. Some of my students got HIV their first time so there was a lot of anger. We helped them cope with it and give them the correct information. They felt like they weren’t gonna live, which isn’t true in many cases. I’m also a performer and have done performance events with youth.

What has been the most interesting thing about interning here thus far?

I recently did my first intake and it was nice to do. One of the advocates showed me what to do step by step.

Can you share about your experience working with the Community Legal Advocacy Program?

That’s something I’m very interested in. I get to go out and support the victims, be there(in court) if they can’t. We get to be there for them and to speak on their behalf if they are scared to come out. That’s kind of good too, to get them the resources and let them know all the different kinds of resources they can get. Some people don’t know the different options for protection orders and such. It can help people to feel more confident to leave as well. It’s also been nice to learn “court talk”. At first I didn’t understand any “court talk” but now I do. So I learned a different language!

Any particular client interactions or stories stand out to you?

When I went to court with Cece(a legal advocate), we had one client who is doing good now but when we first met her she was very controlled by her boyfriend. So, Cece and I spoke with her, I even gave her a hug because she was crying. It’s amazing to see how someone can be controlled just by the way their abuser looks at them. The boyfriend was there in court and he just gave her this look which made her start crying. She assumed he was gonna kill himself because he was acting so out of control with the deputies at court. He was so out of control that he is no longer allowed to come to court because they weren’t able to see the other two people in custody. That will always stick with me. Especially because she was there with her abuser's mom who was blaming her for him being in jail. The mom wanted her to lie and say he didn’t those things. It was the breaking point for her because she loved him but she knew she couldn’t be with him. She felt like she didn’t have no one. So we encouraged her to take care of herself and she’s doing good now. Every time I work with Cece now I ask about her because her story was really touching.

How do you hope to use this experience moving forward in your career?

I want to become a social worker so I can open up my own center, a day/night center. The day center would be a drop-in center for teens, young single moms, youth who are struggling with their sexuality and other situations who need someone to talk to and need resources. It would be a place for them to come get support. The night center would be for foster youth who are removed from their home and are in need of a temporary home while they transition to their permanent placement.


What school do you go to and what program are you in?

My name is Katy and I go to Augsburg University. I’ll be receiving my MSW with a clinical concentration.

What interested you about interning at Sojourner?

I have a personal history with domestic violence and my mom also volunteers at a domestic violence shelter. So it was on my radar and one of those things that has been close to home for a while. It has felt very personal so this was a great opportunity to see, ideally, the other side of things. Life is not rosy and perfect but we are helping the women who come to the shelter to even take the smallest of steps toward something different. Hopefully better, and at least safer.

What other background/experience do you bring with you to Sojourner?

I currently work in the children’s mental health research clinic for the U of MN. I volunteered doing equine therapy for four years in my undergrad and all my clients had mental or physical disabilities. My favorite story from that was working with one young kid who chose not to speak for most of the time I knew him. He didn’t like having conversations and was on the autism spectrum. By the end of it he would have full conversations with me about the birds he has at home and how his grandma was gonna get him a new bird when he graduated from elementary school. It was so cool to see the change from when he first came to us and when he left. I would love to do equine assisted therapy once I have my license. I also have worked as a nanny a lot which taught me patience and to recognize that when someone is having a crisis the best thing you can do is stay as calm and level-headed as possible. I learned to keep my emotions at a steady baseline for others. I did it for so long that now it’s pretty normal for me to be able to stay in a calm space when clients are stressed or upset. That’s been very helpful.

What has been the most interesting about interning here thus far?

It is nothing like I expected it to be! I think I had different expectations because I’ve found that the hardest thing is the lack of housing resources available to clients. There just aren’t enough options for the amount of people who need support. So I’ve been learning to deal with that reality and to help get clients what I can. I got to go with Brittany, one of the shelter advocates, to a policy meeting regarding Coordinated Entry and Coordinated Access. The system is being revamped and I really appreciate that they are asking the people who are directly working with the clients who are using it. Coming up with real answers that could fix some of the holes. That was really cool to have that experience and see it from a bigger picture instead of “now I have to wait two weeks for my appointment to happen and by the time they finally call me I’m gonna be done with my 30 days here so then what happens?”

Any particular client interactions or stories stand out to you?

It’s been interesting to see that for some people, it just works out and we are able to get them the resources they need and they end up getting housing and emergency assistance to pay for the first few months’ rent before they get a job and everything kinda works outs. Then, we have other residents where, no matter how hard we try, it just doesn’t work for some reason. That’s taught me a lot about how much luck is involved.

How do you hope to use this experience moving forward in your career?

It’s solidified my commitment to keep working with people. It’s been a very humbling experience as well, to recognize how privileged I am to be where I am in life. There are people in my life who generally believe that if you work hard enough things will always get better. Being here, it’s been very obvious that sometimes, you can work as hard as you can and things don’t get better. I feel even more strongly that this is the field I want to be in because if the systems are failing people it’s important to have an actual human there who won’t give up on them. I’ve seen that people are so resilient. Really terrible things can happy to people and they can still be happy. Small things like, getting someone fresh coffee can feel like a big deal when everything else feels like it’s going wrong. A small gesture can be powerful. Even when stuff is really hard, people are still looking for the good.Eventually I want to provide therapy to children who have experienced trauma. I’m really interested in animal assisted therapies. I have two dogs and one of them is in training to be a therapy dog right now. I would love to be able to integrate that into my therapeutic work. My goal is to do animal assisted therapies with children.


What school do you go to and what program are you in?

My name is Toria and I go to Boston University's Online MSW Program with a concentration in Clinical Mental Health

What interested you about interning at Sojourner?

Being able to work with a completely new client population and gain experience serving a diverse group of people who come to the shelter for a common cause. Also, to learn to practice in a fast paced setting that demands flexibility and multi-tasking skills. I knew it would be busy but I’ve been surprised by how busy it really is! My shifts go by super-fast because there is always something to be done.

What other background/experience do you bring with you to Sojourner?

My undergraduate degrees are in Psychology and French. While I was in undergrad I was able to study abroad in France and worked for the World Health Organization at one of their collaborating centers. I did empowerment outreach for their mental health care users. That propelled me into the world of social work rather than psychology because I liked the positivity and strengths based view rather than focusing on deficits. I’ve also worked for the Wisconsin Early Autism Project doing in home therapy. I go to kid’s houses and work one on one with them to develop their communication skills, kindergarten prep, self-help skills as well as coaching for their parents.

What has been the most interesting about interning here thus far?

I’ve really enjoyed doing the children’s intakes because it allows me to help them open up and to see their perspective on the situation. It’s makes it easier for them to connect with me later on in their stay as well.

Being able to follow the journey of clients who I screen to come in and watch them work with advocates to get an order of protection if they need it and gather their resources is great. Seeing people make progress and work on their goals and then eventually leave. Even if they only stay at the shelter for a few days but they got what they needed from us and were able to keep moving forward feels amazing. To see the whole process actually work gives me hope.The most challenging thing is when we aren’t able to accept someone into the shelter for one reason or another. Callers (on the crisis line) sometimes get really upset because they are frustrated or scared and that is really hard.

How do you hope to use this experience moving forward in your career?

I’m already using the experience here a lot in my classes, connecting the work to what I am studying. Moving forward, I can say I have experience working with diverse groups of people and doing one on one case management with my own clients. Knowing that I can handle very stressful situations and still do a good job is really important. Eventually, I would like to end up doing a combination of clinical case management and therapeutic services in a hospital.

*Interviews edited for content and clarity.

Check back here each month to meet a new Sojourner staff member and learn more about the different areas of Sojourner's work!

#IntheSpotlight #Internship #Interns

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