By Patty Garza, Community and Family Relations Coordinator, San Antonio
TJJD staff at South Texas Region parole offices in San Antonio and Harlingen and Ayres Halfway House in San Antonio were fortunate to have seven interns working with them this past semester.
The seven represented five universities and three areas of study, law, social work and criminal justice.
TJJD staff and youth benefited greatly from the contributions of these students, who worked hard and showed creativity as they completed most of their work virtually amid the COVID crisis. They were passionate and eager to learn and made a positive impact on the youth with whom they worked.
Staff were grateful to these college students and wished them well as they completed the semester and moved on to continue with their studies.
The interns were: David Vazquez and Angela Barrientes, master’s of social work candidates, UT San Antonio; Emily Cupp and Fernando Varga, bachelor of social work students from Texas State University; J’hane Barnett law student from St. Mary’s University; Tiffany Rubin master’s of social work candidate from New Mexico University and Ashley Flores, criminal justice student from University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
They brought to bear a wide array of interests as they worked with youth on learning style assessments, workforce preparation and resource development in their home counties.
One intern created virtual presentations for Ayres House youth on Hispanic Heritage Month and Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) that helped the youth learn more about their cultural roots. This intern, Fernando Vargas, also provided an extensive research-based review of the benefits of adventure-based therapy, research that suggests expanded opportunities for youth to heal and thrive.
Angela Barrientes created a "Recycle Game" that combined learning about how to recycle various materials with a fun toss-the-ball element, making use of the concept that games can enhance education.
Another intern completed an entire presentation and workbook on self-care after assessing the youth at Ayres House to determine their needs, interest level and proven beneficial data.
Several of the interns also generously donated items to the youth to help them participate in activities.
Emily Cupp donated books to youth she mentored and also gave a jumbo jenga game, yard bowling set, snacks and pizza for a Game Day.
Intern David Vazquez donated a punching bag. Vargas brought pan dulce and hot chocolate for his Hispanic heritage presentation. Tiffany Rubin donated a Freedom Writers Book to youth she was mentoring and Barrientes donated the materials for the “Recycle Game” that she created.
Photos: A college intern mentors a youth remotely (upper right); TJJD staff meet virtually with the interns (bottom).