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  • Kelsey Erwin

Meet our 2023 Spring Interns


Meet Cayla


What school/program are you in?

I am currently in my final semester at Metro State University and am pursuing my Bachelor of Human Services with a minor in Family Studies.


What interested you in interning at Sojourner?

Sojourner stood out to me because of their comprehensive mission to “advocate for victim safety, support the transition from victim to survivor, and educate for the prevention and elimination of domestic violence.” The population Sojourner supports is very close to my heart, and their holistic approach to violence prevention and response really resonates with me. I am grateful to have the opportunity to step into a role that both advocates for survivors’ safety and goes out into the community to educate about violence prevention.


What background/experience do you bring with you to the role?

As a young girl, I learned the importance of advocating for and supporting those who are most vulnerable through having multiple family members with cognitive, behavioral, and physical disabilities. This passion led me to work as a personal support staff for two young adults with autism. In addition, I co-led a respite and buddy program serving people with various disabilities. My value for education encouraged me to become a youth group leader for high school and middle school students and allowed me the opportunity to travel overseas to Ukraine and teach university students English. During my time in school, some of my favorite courses have been: loss and grief, violence across the family lifespan, crisis assessment and intervention, and group counseling. These courses and experiences have further encouraged me to enter the role of advocating and violence prevention education in order to increase the safety of individuals in our community.


What have you enjoyed or learned so far at Sojourner?

During my experience as Sojourner, I have valued the opportunity to observe how the SafeU education program impacts young people. Seeing youth interest, engagement and understanding of the complexities surrounding dating violence gives me hope that they will have safer and healthier relationships. I have also had the privilege to co-facilitate the women’s support group. I have appreciated their strength, resilience, and support for one another. They are an inspiration for survivors healing from domestic abuse. Hearing clients give specific examples of how Sojourners' services have increased their families' safety makes me proud to be a part of an organization that truly makes a difference.


How do you hope to use this experience in the future?

Domestic and sexual violence does not discriminate and sadly impacts the lives of so many people. Sojourner has done a thorough job to inform me, along with other interns and volunteers, about domestic and sexual violence and its complexities. No one deserves to be abused and everyone has the right to be safe. As I go forward, I expect to use the knowledge and skills I have gained through my experience at Sojourner to educate and advocate for the safety and well-being of those around me.


Meet Mariah


What school/program are you in?

I am pursuing my bachelor’s degree in human services and a minor in disability studies at Metropolitan State University. I am on track to graduate this coming May of 2023.


What interested you in interning at Sojourner?

One thing that made me interested in interning at Sojourner is that I would have a learning experience in an area that I did not know much about. Instead of finding an agency that lined up with what I already had experience with, I wanted to expand my horizons and have the opportunity to learn about something that was new. I believe that enhancing my education in areas that are unfamiliar to me will allow me to become a more competent human service professional, as well as will allow me to increase my knowledge on important social issues such as domestic violence.


What background/experience do you bring with you to the role?

Although I do not have any experience in the field working with women and children who are experiencing domestic violence, I have learned important concepts and skills during the human services program that will be helpful during my time as an intern. Throughout the program, I have taken courses that have educated me on crisis and intervention, group processes, violence against persons with disabilities, multicultural competence, and more. Some skills that I bring with me to the role include interviewing skills such as OARS and actively listening, time management, and problem-solving skills.


What have you enjoyed or learned so far at Sojourner?

I have really enjoyed meeting the staff and starting to build relationships with the residents and children in shelter. I have already learned so much by observing advocates in the shelter and by beginning to apply my skills when answering calls on the crisis line. The domestic violence training I attended my first week was really helpful and informative. One area of this training that really stood out to me was when I learned about the legal system and how it relates to domestic violence. I have continued to research policies and laws on domestic violence in Minnesota and am very excited to observe the legal advocates during my time at Sojourner.


How do you hope to use this experience in the future?


In the future, I hope to bring with me the things I learn at Sojourner into my role as a human service professional. I will also use this experience as a way to increase my awareness surrounding the social issue of domestic violence and the effects it has on individuals in our community. Through this awareness, I will not only be benefited in my career but I will also be benefited on a personal level as I will bring with me an understanding of what healthy and unhealthy relationships look like.


Learn more about our internship program by visiting www.sojournerproject.org/get-involved.


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