Kayla Holliday shares her internship experience at SCI Rockview
Criminal Justice major
Internship at SCI Rockview, Bellefonte, PA
I knew from my very first criminal justice class that I belonged in corrections, so I absolutely wanted to intern at a prison. I was accepted at SCI Rockview, an all-male maximum security prison, and I worked on the drug and alcohol treatment block with a program called "A Therapeutic Community.”
Credit: Penn State
The main goal of the program is cognitive restructuring. We started each day with a morning meeting to talk about any issues the inmates were having, followed by an Energizer, which could have been dancing for a few minutes or telling jokes, just something to get the mood boosted. Then we broke into small groups. After about a week and a half, I started to facilitate one called Unrealistic Expectations. There was an afternoon group as well, along with paperwork or individual sessions with the inmates, then we would come together as a whole to have an evening meeting and talk about the day's events.
I definitely had to just jump right into this internship. I often felt some negativity being there as a female in a male population, even from some staff at the prison. Some officers tried to deter me from coming to the field after I graduate, but I'm the type of person who, if I set out to do something, whether I like it or not, I'm going to accomplish it. I don't just quit. I’m tough, but through this experience, I learned I am even tougher than I thought. I feel very prepared for my career in corrections after this internship. I made a good relationship with my supervisor there and know I can contact her for advice or resources and go to her with questions.
During the internship, I was able to create several of my own projects for inmates to work on. One of them was a jigsaw template that I printed, cut out, and wrote character traits on for the men to put together. It ended up being my most special project because several inmates then asked for templates to write letters on, so their family members would have to complete the puzzle to see their messages.
Something else I learned that will be very important as I go forward in this career, is that these individuals, though inmates, are still human. They're capable of having remorse and being rehabilitated. When I first started the internship, I didn’t think I was going to have much purpose or make any sort of impact. But I made connections with those men. I received hand-written letters from some of them before I left thanking me for my time. These letters expressed gratitude for giving advice or offering a different perspective during a group session. To know that in such a short time that I was able to impact the lives of a few of my clientele means the world to me. This experience alone continues to drive my aspirations in the field of corrections. I'm supposed to work with this population of people and be in this environment. And I'm ready for it. It's what I'm destined to do in life.