Western Nevada College criminal justice student Andrea Sedna is making a difference in her community, and also in her life. Through an internship at the Carson City Department of Alternative Sentencing, Sedna is assisting individuals who are under the department’s supervision, be it formal probation or pretrial supervision.
The program seeks to lower recidivism rates while providing for those in need who are assigned to the caseload of the Department of Alternative Sentencing. It promotes public safety while holding citizens who are on probation accountable to the community. It also provides assistance in education, employment and housing to citizens, under supervision of the Department of Alternative Sentencing.
Because of her work, Sedna was invited to make a presentation to the Carson City Board of Supervisors about the department’s Life Enhancement Academic Program.
WNC Criminal Justice Professor Richard Finn supervises the college’s end of the program, and he sees benefit for both students and the community.
For WNC students, “The rewards come from the experience the student gets, positive or negative, in learning the job they are assigned to,” Finn said. “People don’t realize that it is equally important to decide if this (career) is not for you, as well as, it is what you want to do.”
Since the program began, WNC interns have helped six individuals find employment, assisted two others in locating housing, and helped two more earn their GED high school equivalency certificates.
“It is critical that the right students are selected to continue their predecessor’s job in a professional manner,” Finn said. “Anything less would be a disservice to Carson City and to the reputation of the college.”
Crystal Sandoval was the first intern to represent WNC in the Department of Alternative Sentencing’s Life Enhancement Academic Program.
“What Andrea is doing is building on what Crystal Sandoval did prior to her arrival at the Department of Alternative Sentencing,” Finn said. “Crystal was my first intern there and basically paved the way for Andrea and other students in the future.
“These two young ladies have set the tone for future interns. They have impacted individual lives as well as assisted the city in doing a critical service to the Department of Alternative Sentencing.”
This week, Sandoval and Sedna joined other students in a WNC tour group who visited the Nevada Department of Probation and Parole Office to further examine whether a career in criminal justice is for them.
“The students I am taking are criminal justices majors who I feel would be a great fit in that type of environment. It is important they experience all facets of criminal justice to determine on their own if it is a fit for them,” Finn said.
The field trip, as well as a future ride-along with a department employee, will provide his students a better understanding of the profession.
“What I want the students to get out of this is to experience the day-to-day work that is done in the office,” Finn said. “I will then have them do a ride-along with the department (if they so desire) to experience what they do in the field. This will give them a very real experience of what the profession of parole and probation entails.”
Finn said the tour is beneficial not only for current WNC criminal justice students but also for those who have finished at WNC and continued on at a university. “It gives them a real-world look at the career they have chosen.”
Finn said the bond formed with his criminal justice students remains strong once they leave WNC.
“WNC students don’t forget their roots,” Finn said. “I am sure most would be surprised at how many come back for career advice after they get their bachelor’s degree and after they enter the field of criminal justice.”