Criminal Justice Administration: Student affirms and develops the skills of others in California

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Steven-Snow-resized.jpgIf you ask Steven Snow, a senior criminal justice administration major and Waynesburg University Bonner Scholar, about his summer 2013 internship, he can dazzle you with incredible experiences with the Los Angeles County Probation Department. But first, you’ll need him to pause and explain the acronyms. Between C2C, CBT, PO’s, SOWs, RFPs and more, Snow learned to talk the talk of criminal justice during his summer in sunny California. 

The “duly sworn” intern had to pass multiple exams and background checks to work under a senior director of the largest probation department in the nation. He proved the old “who you know” adage by contacting a family friend for potential openings in the department, but employed the “what you know” gained at Waynesburg University to truly excel once there. 

“Mr. McIlwain, Mr. Jack, Dr. Baer and many others at Waynesburg University greatly influenced my preparedness for the internship,” Snow said. “More specifically, my Juvenile Justice class that I took in the fall of 2012 really helped me to be creative in working with the Crossroads Program.”

Snow spent most of his internship working with the Department’s youth module, Crossroads. The six-week program helps to coach and mentor delinquent or misguided youth on probation, a perfect fit for Snow’s service heart. 

“My heart for service and leadership went a long way in the internship,” Snow said. “The Crossroads Program is very similar to The Open Door, a young adult ministry I serve at through Waynesburg University. By being a mentor and implementing the tools and techniques I learned at Waynesburg and through service, delinquent behavior can be minimized.”

In fact, Snow directly applied many concepts from his Juvenile Justice class at Waynesburg to the Crossroads Program. His class watched a video about developing creativity in youth who are recovering from substance abuse issues. In the video, the youth visited a glass making studio and created art based on emotions they might otherwise suppress.

“I thought back to that video and decided it would be great to incorporate the same idea into the Crossroads Program,” Snow said. “The youth were very creative and highly skilled in design. By affirming and developing the skills these young men hold, I thought we could encourage them to use their skills for art and design rather than graffiti or tagging.” 

Snow instituted “graffiti art,” in which the young men would pick a word discussed in the Crossroads workbook and draw what that word meant to them. They chose words like family, loyalty and value. Then he displayed their artwork in the halls for people to view and appreciate. 

“Engaging with them was so rewarding,” Snow said. “My expectation was that the youth were going to be rude, disrespectful and act like they didn't care about anyone or anything. That was certainly not the end result; I got to help them push for a change.” 

Hoping to learn all aspects of a parole department, Snow interned at the right place. In addition to working with the Crossroads Program, he attended board meetings with his supervisors and assisted in writing a Statement of Work (SOW) for a Request for Proposal (RFP) to provide housing and employment for ex-parolees. With so much responsibility, Snow said that his faith grounded him. 

“Because of the nature of law enforcement, my faith was certainly tested during the internship,” Snow said. “But I know now that this is what I want to do with my life and I think this is where God wants me. Without Waynesburg University or the Bonner Scholarship, both of which focus so much on faith and service, I would still be searching for my calling.”