McNeese Family Science Interns Get Hands-On Experience in Changing Lives
McNeese State University’s family sciences internship program offered through the Department of Social Sciences is changing lives through hands-on educational experiences and community service.
The Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology, with a concentration in family science, is offered 100% online and the internship program works with 51 non-profit, educational and governmental social service organizations to provide supervised professional internships to students across the U.S.
Students can focus on one of 12 different areas for their internships: child advocacy, disability resources, domestic violence, family functioning, Head Start, juvenile justice, mental health, parenting education, personal resource development, school engagement, senior care and youth development.
Since 2016, family science students have given more than 10,000 hours of service back to their communities, according to family science internship coordinator and visiting lecturer Jeneal White.
Britanny Thomas, Lake Charles, started out as an education major at McNeese before she decided to change her major to family science.
“There were so many different courses that focus on the betterment of children and their families, which I found to be my true passion,” she says.
White connected Thomas with the Educational and Treatment Council in Lake Charles as a possible internship opportunity.
“After I read their mission statement – ‘Provide services that ensure youth safety, enhance life functioning and reconnect youth and families with the community’ – I knew it would be the perfect fit for me,” Thomas says.
Her responsibilities included assisting family educators in resource networking, intervention curriculum and educating client families.
“Seeing parents get excited about learning new skills and getting answers correct during lessons is such a memorable experience for me because it truly shows the love they have for their children, which is what family educators want to see the most,” Thomas says. “Every course that I have taken in my major has applied to something I’ve done or seen at my internship. Before my internship, I was confused about the route I wanted to take; however, my internship has helped me figure out the best path for me.”
Mika Cormier, Houston, Texas, was working full time when she decided to return to McNeese to get a second bachelor’s degree. For her internship, she has been working at Buckner International in Houston with individuals and families who have been affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Her responsibilities have included planning special client events and activities, conducting needs assessments and developing programs and services to help clients become self-sufficient.
“I’ve really enjoyed finding resources and ways to help my clients, whether it be figuring out what classes to take or finding out their needs and discovering how to fulfill them,” she says.
Cormier says the classes at McNeese have helped her specifically when helping those suffering from PTSD. “We’ve talked a lot in class about the ethics and how it’s not just about helping a parent or a child but putting all the puzzle pieces together to help the family as a whole. Ms. White has made a huge impact on me by helping me find my internship and always giving me feedback. I’ve really enjoyed all of her classes, which have really helped me find ways to help Buckner continue to thrive. She is an excellent professor.”
“Our students are amazing emerging professionals and are ready for strong careers strengthening families,” says White.
As of 2019, 27% of graduated interns in the family science program go on to pursue further professional study in the areas of social work, family therapy, school counseling, criminal justice or family science, while a further 36% of graduated interns have been offered permanent employment by their internship placements, according to White.
Deandre John, who graduated in 2019 and now works as a community support specialist for Volunteers of America – Baton Rouge, says it was the comprehensive curriculum that attracted him to the program at McNeese.
“I have always been interested in lifespan development and the program at McNeese provided an outstanding foundation covering the psychological, sociological and biological factors which contribute to human development,” he says.
While at McNeese, his desire to work with disabled individuals led him to an internship with Families Helping Families of Acadiana conducting educational needs assessments, helping ensure that children received the full extent of their school accommodations and facilitating community informational workshops dealing in topics like parenting skill building and understanding 504 education plan guidelines.
“I remember helping a mother obtain vital information regarding available education options for her teenage son,” John says. “She had been searching for guidance regarding the matter for months, but to no avail. Being able to see the relief on her face once I provided her with the sought-after information was priceless. It solidified my decision to enter the helping professions.”
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