Kelly Deegan ’19 is a Child Study major at the University of Saint Joseph (USJ). As part of her Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) Internship course, Deegan was given the task of finding an internship to prepare her for a career after college. After searching, she landed one at the Village for Families and Children, where she was assigned to intern at the Aspire Connect and Thrive (ACT) Academy at Sarah J. Rawson Elementary School in Hartford. Throughout the 2019 spring semester, she gained experience and a deeper passion for education.
“I had a great experience and loved everyone that I worked with. Everyone at Rawson was so nice and welcoming. At first, the students said, ‘Who is this lady?’ and ‘Why is telling us what to do?’ It’s always a struggle going into a new place as an authority figure, but I ended up creating strong relationships with all the kids I worked with,” said Deegan.
During her internship, Deegan worked with students from first to fourth grade. Primarily focused on fourth graders, she was paired with a Positive Youth Director (PYD) and acted as a teacher’s assistant. Focusing on Social-Emotional Learning, Deegan helped with assignments in the classroom, tutored students at their after-school program, and hosted “Lunch Bunches,” where she individually invited students to have lunch with her and a PYD. When she wasn’t helping students, Deegan created self-care posters for the teachers.
“For most teachers, especially in an urban community, they face stress in their personal and professional lives. With the self-care posters, we placed them in the restrooms. They each had positive messages and tips for them to incorporate into their daily lives,” Deegan remarked.
Deegan truly valued her course taught by Patrick Nickoletti, Ph.D., associate professor of HDFS. Nickoletti’s coursework taught them how to get the most out of their internships and the expectations supervisors would have. Deegan expressed how he encouraged students to seek internships that offer experiential learning and challenges. Her favorite project had her brainstorm 10 career goals she has for herself in the future.
Going forward, Deegan wants to become an elementary school teacher, earn her master’s degree in Literacy Education, and advance her knowledge in Deaf Education. The biggest lesson she learned is to identify underlying reasons behind a child’s outburst and not to label them as “bad.” With her ambition and kind-hearted nature, Deegan feels more than prepared to take on the classroom.
Want to learn more about internship opportunities? USJ’s Career Development Center provides all students and alumni with career planning services and resources, individual counseling sessions, workshops, and more.