A battery of internships provide invaluable experience prior to graduation.Enriching The Student Experience
…working with the inmates gave me a different perspective on what the human experience is like and how a cycle of abuse affects someone’s life.
By the time she collected her master’s degree in international disaster psychology (IDP) in June 2018, Jessi Lee had put her classroom and textbook learning to a thorough test.
A summer internship with a nongovernmental organization sent her to work with refugees in Serbia. Still another internship with Denver’s Center for Immigrants and Immigration Services allowed Lee to serve asylum seekers and victims of torture. Her clients included arrivals from Russia, Kenya and Burkina Faso.
Just as important, a stint at Denver County Jail gave her experience with a population of inmates. The plight of these clients, she said, opened her eyes: “I found it frustrating that a majority of the individuals who are incarcerated struggle with some form of mental illness, and they’re not getting the care they need. Overall, working with the inmates gave me a different perspective on what the human experience is like and how a cycle of abuse affects someone’s life.”
Varied as these experiences were, they gave her the chance to develop the kind of cultural competence she’ll need in her career. “We’re always asking, ‘How do we be as trauma-informed as possible working with people of different backgrounds and different identities?’” she said of her fellow students and the faculty at DU’s Graduate School of Professional Psychology. “This program really challenges you to be introspective. Part of therapy is asking clients to live in discomfort; the program asks us to do that as well.”