After completing my freshman year at Carleton College, I was ready to take a break from the classroom and start doing. I wanted to test the tools and skills that I had learned and refined over the years, primarily at Waynflete and then at Carleton. Participating in Parkside Fun, from sophomore year until graduation, sparked and materialized my interest in mentoring and advocating for children.
Following that passion has led me to all of the most transformative experiences of my life. First, it led me to be a lifeguard at a camp in Maine for low-income and foster girls from both urban and rural areas, many of whom had never been in a boat, did not know how to swim, and had never been in such an isolated, rural area. Most recently, it has led me to be a child policy intern at the Support Center for Child Advocates (Child Advocates) in Phildelphia, PA.
At Child Advocates, our mission is “To advocate for victims of child abuse and neglect with the goal of securing safety, justice, well-being and a permanent, nurturing environment for every child.” In all of our casework and community outreach, we promote a collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach. Each child committed to our care is given a team, compromising of a volunteer lawyer and a social worker; this helps us ensure the well-being, permanency and access to justice of every child client.
Every day, we work to change the story of our clients. I have had the privilege to work with lawyers and social workers directly on cases, witness court proceedings and see the very ways in which each member of these teams is able to improve the outcome of our clients’ lives. My role at Child Advocates varies tremendously day-to-day. Focusing on policy, I do data analysis on the fatalities and near fatalities of children in foster care and in homes with DHS involvement. In Philadelphia, every time abuse is a suspected cause of a child fatality or near-fatality, a team is required to review the case, write a report and make recommendations, both locally and state wide. In order to ensure that these reports are effective, we track them and do analysis. In the future, this will lead us to try and change the policy around foster care and homes with DHS involvement, in the hopes of entirely eliminating such tragedies.
Whether I am in court, editing a brief, researching for a statement of facts, working with our development team or conducting data analysis, I draw on all of the writing skills that I acquired at Waynflete. I vividly remember receiving my first paper back from Lowell the spring of my senior year and quite literally having more comments from him than words I had written. This is the greatest testament to the teachers at Waynflete and their dedication to never cease pushing students to learn. In many ways, it epitomizes the best of my experience at Waynflete. I will always be grateful for every teacher there who took the time to mark up a paper because, no matter what I am doing, I return to those writing skills that I learned at Waynflete.