Photo of Laura Coker

Laura Coker

*The following is a guest column by Senior English Major Laura Coker.

For my senior capstone project, I earned an internship at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Hamilton County (CACHC).

The CACHC offers services, such as counseling, medical support, and investigative services, to children who are victims of abuse. As their first English major intern, I was assigned the task of creating a manual for their internship and volunteer program. Since the English major doesn’t pertain to child development, I didn’t work directly with the children who were brought to the CACHC. Instead, I created a manual that outlined information and statistics about child abuse as well as about the CACHC’s mission and the services they offer free of charge to children and their families.

Even though I didn’t get a chance to work with the children or families who came to the CACHC, I was able to create a manual that would help interns and volunteers understand child abuse and the different types of people they would be working with.

Image of Who Do We Serve infographic

One of the many manual infographics which describe the demographics served by the CACHC.

Before I started the internship, my supervisor told me that the CACHC often loses volunteers because they don’t understand the role of each position or even what the CACHC does before they accept the position. It was a rewarding experience for me to be able to create something for the CACHC that might benefit their program by informing people about the services offered by the CACHC to victims of abuse while also helping them retain their volunteers. The manual is also going to be used as a teaching tool at seminars and events hosted by the CACHC to help people understand more about child abuse and what we can do as a community to prevent it.

Working at the CACHC gave me the chance to learn what it’s like to write professionally as well as academically. I also now have valuable work experience and a portfolio to show future employers. One career path I’m interested in is law, and I now have a better understanding of how the legal process works for criminal cases. I know that because of my internship experience and my time as an English major at UTC, I have the writing skills I need in order to be successful in whatever career or academic path I choose.

The best decision I made at UTC was choosing English as my major. Despite what some people believe, the English major isn’t easy, and we’re capable of more than just reading books and drinking coffee. I’ve taken many great classes with amazing professors who have challenged me to become a better writer and who have made me realize how much of an asset I actually am to the business world.

Image of Abuse and Neglect Factsheet

“Facts about Abuse and Neglect” gives basic information about identifying the physical signs of child abuse with infographics offering additional statistics.

Some of my favorite classes that I’ve taken at UTC were Dr. McCarthy’s Shakespeare course, Dr. Rehyansky’s History of the English Language, Dr. Jordan’s Romanticism course, and Dr. Hunter’s Publishing in New Media.

Each professor taught me a new lesson.

Performing a scene from one of Shakespeare’s plays in Dr. McCarthy’s class was the most interesting and exciting group project I’ve participated in at UTC. Because of Dr. McCarthy, I now have a deeper appreciation for Shakespeare.

Dr. Jordan is one of the most caring and encouraging professors I’ve ever had. I knew that if I had a problem, whether academic or personal, I could talk to him about it. Dr. Jordan has helped me become a better writer just by sitting down with me during his office hours and being honest with me about how I could improve my essays as well as my overall writing style.

Dr. Rehyansky helped me discover my passion for language. She encouraged me to take on a daunting research project, read many of my final drafts, and even helped me develop this project further a year later when I was no longer enrolled in her class.

Dr. Hunter’s Publishing in New Media was a learning experience in many ways. Not only did I meet an amazing group of people who I’m still friends with to this day, but his class introduced me to new genres of writing and culture that pertain to our ever advancing technological world.

The “What You Need to Know” section of the manual included the standard workplace policies all of which were written by me.

All of these professors gave me a new appreciation for literature and writing, and they have all helped me build my confidence as a writer. In fact, I didn’t realize how much my English classes and past professors prepared me until I earned a writing intensive internship. At the beginning of the internship, I was told that I wouldn’t be working at the CACHC’s office under supervision; instead, I would be working completely on my own and was only required to check in with my supervisor once every few weeks to discuss the work she had given me to complete for the deadline she had set. I was terrified.

But, because I was used to working in a fast paced academic environment where I was forced to meet firmly established deadlines while also completing multiple projects and essays at a time, I adapted quickly to working on my own and to the writing intensive work I was assigned. Prior to my position as an intern at the CACHC, I’d also never written anything in a professional style. It was different at first and less complicated than academic writing which is the type of writing I’m accustomed to. But I was prepared, and after a few critiques from my supervisor, I quickly adapted to professional writing.

I can say without a doubt that my time as an English major at UTC has been a rewarding experience, and I can’t wait to see what opportunities are in store for me.

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