The UMKC counseling program is committed to identifying internships for its undergraduate students. The results of the students’ experiences are stronger skills, clearer understanding of the profession and possible job offers.
Angel Williams is a senior who decided to be a counselor based on the prevalence of mental health issues.
“I just decided that if people need help, I should be a person that they can look to. That way they can lean on me with the problems that they may have."
At Jumpstart, an outcome-based program that promotes children’s school success and builds family engagement, Williams worked two days a week developing lesson plans, conducting reading activities and providing lessons to expand vocabulary.
The internship gave Williams perspective on how broad the field of psychology is, as well as the diversity of the audience.
“I want to work with young adults, but my internship gave me the experience of putting myself in someone else’s shoes. It helped me realize where other people are coming from even better.”
Growing up, school was a place that Yami Blas, a senior in counseling, felt secure and supported.
“My teachers and counselor instilled a deep appreciation for the work that they do. Their influence encouraged me to pursue a career in an educational setting. My internship at Campfire made my interest in school counseling become clearer.”
During her internship, she went to two schools and worked with diverse groups of students.
“We taught them conflict resolution and emotional regulation skills,” Blas says. “I created lesson plans that would outline ways to resolve conflicts that students may have faced, but we made these activities so students would have fun while learning.”
Blas plans to earn her master's degree in counseling with an emphasis on school counseling.
“At Campfire I interacted with school counselors, which provided invaluable insights into their roles and responsibilities. Their insights instilled a sense of confidence in my career choice.”
After graduation, Blas plans to be a school counselor within her community.
“I am well aware of the pressing need for increased representation of Latine professionals in mental health and education. I want to make a meaningful impact and contribute to fostering inclusive and equitable support systems for all students!”
Sarah Welte, (B.A., 23) psychology major with a minor in race, ethnic and gender studies, is an academy director at Rockhill Manor thanks to her counseling internship through UMKC.
Welte was hesitant about her internship with Rockhill Manor, an assisted living campus for adults with a chronic mental illness, because she was concerned that it may be too focused on the nursing side of health care, rather than the mental health side, which interested her more.
“Dr. (Kym) Bennett encouraged me to try it because she thought I might like it. I’m very thankful for her patience and for motivating me to give it a shot!”
Rockhill Academy is a non-profit organization run by Rockhill Manor that offers classes focusing on life skills, educational opportunities and community engagement for their residents.
“I help design and facilitate these classes, including Mental Health Awareness, and organizing trips to Starlight Theater,” Welte says. “In addition, I am in charge of facilitating the internship program we have with UMKC.”
“The best case scenario is that students get into the internship, and they love the time working one-on-one with people. If they don’t, we can course correct.” - Kym Bennett
Welte says working at Rockhill has been the perfect job for her after graduation.
“It allowed me to shift into the psychology field in a place where I was already comfortable because I had had months of exposure to the place and the residents before I began working here. Now I get to continue to work with residents that I had already formed relationships with, providing them a continuance of classes and opportunities that will hopefully enhance their lives.
Kym Bennett, Ph.D., director, Undergraduate Psychology Program and Mentoring Office helped each student secure an internship. She and Ricardo Marte, Ph.D., associate clinical professor, maintain a list of sites that provide opportunities for meaningful experiences, but they can identify other sites if a student has a specific interest. It’s important to them that the internship is a good fit.
“The best case scenario is that students get into the internship, and they love the time working one-on-one with people,” Bennett says. “If they don’t, we can course correct.”
She says seeing a student take a job at an internship placement is energizing.
“It’s one of the best parts of the job to see our students complete their degree and begin down the path of helping others. There’s no better feeling.”
Story by: Patricia O'Dell | Published: August 18, 2023