Athens State University

Introduction

Psychology Students Engage with the Community to Give Back

Psychology Students Engage with the Community to Give Back

Each semester, students from the Department of Behavioral Sciences/Psychology intern at various sites within the community. Also, students are required to complete a service project at the end of the internship.

According to Dr. Vanessa Miller, professor, and internship coordinator, “The goal of the project is to help the site meet a need; and to get the student interns thinking about what they can do to engage in the site and the community, beyond their regular duties as interns.”

The interns, in collaboration with site team members and Dr. Miller, choose the project. Past projects have included clothing drives, gift card donations, and a fundraiser night at Goodland Pour House in Madison. However, things changed when COVID-19 reared its ugly head; and this spring was a bit different for the four student interns at the Limestone Child Advocacy Center (LCAC).
“The pandemic abruptly ended our internship,” Christina Halbeisin said. “The LCAC closed in mid-March, and we couldn’t finish our time there.”

Closing their doors may have prevented the interns from finishing their time at the LCAC, but that did not stop them from completing their service project, which “gained more momentum when the pandemic hit,” said Dr. Miller.

Determined to raise funds for the Center despite the constraints of dealing with COVID-19, the students came up with the idea of an online fundraiser. They contacted local businesses in Limestone and Madison counties, soliciting gift card donations. In return, they would promote those businesses through LCAC social media outlets.

“Even during uncertain times, business owners were very willing to donate,” Intern Kali Luna said. “Without the generosity of the local business, our fundraiser would not have been as successful, and we appreciate them immensely.”

As a result of their ingenuity and the generosity of others, the students raised $840 for the Center.

The LCAC internship is offered in the spring semester and coincides with the International Symposium on Child Abuse, which takes place annually in Huntsville. The LCAC interns attend the symposium.

Behavioral Science and Psychology students intern at 18 sites in the community each fall and spring semester. The students are required to spend eight hours each week at the internship site, meeting with Dr. Miller one hour per week. There are between two and four interns placed at each location.