Ten Texas A&M International University sociology students performed 1,500 hours of volunteer community service last semester through a unique course designed to provide students with real-life experience while providing Laredoans with much needed social services.
Dr. Cecilia Garza, Assistant Professor of Sociology at A&M International, coordinates the University's Sociology Internship program and teaches the internship course, Social Services Internship (SOCI 4316).
She explained the course integrates classroom learning with practical field experience in a mutually beneficial effort that helps the interns, the organizations that employ them, and the community they serve.
For the course, each student must complete course assignments, individual conferences, and 150 hours of service at a local social, health, or correctional organization. The internship activities the students perform vary from organization to organization, however all students take an active role within the assigned organization.
"The students perform a variety of social service activities during their internship. For example, they participate in home visits with the elderly and juveniles, they attend court sessions, provide parents, youth and battered spouses with one-to-one education, tutor in the schools, conduct sign language classes, locate resources for needy families, and make appropriate referrals on behalf of individuals in need," she said.
She added the internship activities better prepare students for joining the work force after graduation.
"The Internship experience gives students an opportunity to build professional ties, explore the realities of the day-today work environment, and use the sociological theory they have learned in class and apply it in a real world setting," she said.
A&M International Sociology Fall semester interns and their respective internship sites are as follows: Wendy A. Escobedo and Brenda Martinez interning with the Laredo Family Violence Program, Coordinator Diana Pedraza and Counselor Julie Tijerina, supervisors; Estella Y. Coronado and Sylvia E. Ortegon, Justice of the Peace Precinct 1, Judge Danny Valdez, and Juvenile Coordinator Danny Donovan, supervisors; Yvonne Elizondo, Communities In Schools, Cristelo Garza and Elizabeth Perez, supervisors; Angelica Hernandez, Texas Department of Human Services, Gloria Landin, supervisor; Herminia R. Alarcon, Texas Department of Human Services, Raquel Medina, supervisor; Veronica Coss, Webb County Community Supervision and Corrections Department, Adult Probation Officer Helen Stillman, supervisor; Denise Y. Guerra, Junior Achievement, Executive Director Lourdes Gutierrez, supervisor; and Marianela Cantu, Office of Persons with Disabilities, Diocese of Corpus Christi. Father David Walsh.
The agencies and organizations that participated in the internship program received a certificate of appreciation and an open invitation to continue their important partnership with the University.
For more information on the Social Service Internship course or the Sociology Program at A&M International, please contact Dr. Garza at 326-2619 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. University office hours are from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday - Friday.