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Thank You Fall 2020 Interns

October 29, 2020
Courtney M. McSwain

This fall, we have three incredible interns working with NJJN in our policy and communications departments. From research to social media and policy advocacy, our interns are helping us finish 2020 strong. Huge thanks to all that they helped us accomplish! 

Learn more about these emerging advocates. 

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Danielle Smith, Elon University School of Law, Policy Intern



What got you interested in youth justice advocacy work? 
 

My previous experience working at my local sheriff’s office substantially impacted the way I view youth justice and criminal justice, generally. During my employment, I saw the youth and criminal justice systems from a different perspective. Witnessing the shortfalls of these systems, seemingly by design, is what led me to go to law school and seek out opportunities in youth justice policy. 

How do you hope your experience with NJJN will support your goals moving forward? 

I am looking forward to learning more about what policy work entails within the youth justice framework. Bridging those competencies with lawyering is something I believe will be beneficial in my pursuit of advocating for changes within the criminal justice system. 

What college/post-grad course has had the biggest impact on you? Why?  

I had the privilege of taking a Prisoner’s Rights course last fall. This course took a comparative approach to examining prisoner’s rights issues in the United States and South Africa. I was able to travel to South Africa and visit a women’s prison, the Constitutional Court, and various other historical and cultural sites. This course painted an even clearer picture of how injustice is entrenched at every level of the criminal justice system and solidified my dedication to criminal justice reform. 

What are you most looking forward to in a post-COVID-19 world?  

My hope is that this pandemic has shed light on the deficiencies in our criminal justice, health care, and education systems, empowering citizens to recognize the capability they possess to make changes within them. I am looking forward to seeing this power realized in a post-pandemic world. I am also looking forward to festivals and international travel! 

Julianna Cann, American University, Communications Intern 



What got you interested in youth justice advocacy work? 
 

For as long as I can remember, social justice issues have always played such an important role in my interests, both in an academic setting and in my personal life. It has become apparent throughout my years of interest in social justice that our youth justice system is an increasingly flawed system. As I’ve grown more and more interested in youth justice, the disparities in the system are glaring, and becoming engaged with an organization like NJJN was key for me in putting my efforts towards justice for everyone. 

How do you hope your experience with NJJN will support your goals moving forward? 

Moving forward, my experience with NJJN will help me best understand the ways that my interest in communications and policy can work together. Working for an organization like NJJN will help me better combine these interests while giving me real world experience working in youth justice advocacy, an issue that is so relevant today. 

What college/post-grad course has had the biggest impact on you? Why?  

The course that has had the biggest impact on me in college was a course called Interest Group Politics. In this class, we discussed advocacy work, lobbying, and special interest in the public policy sphere. Through this class, I found that my passion for policy lies closely with advocacy work and if I hadn’t taken this course, I’m not sure I would have as much direction for once I graduate. 

What are you most looking forward to in a post-COVID-19 world? 

In a post-COVID-19 world, I’m most looking forward to hugging my grandfather. He just turned 90 years old at the beginning of October, so I haven’t been able to see him or hug him because of safety reasons.  

 

Sarah Natchipolsky, University of Maryland, Communications Intern 



What got you interested in youth 
justice advocacy work?  

My interest in criminal justice reform began in high school when I was working on a long-term paper about the prison-industrial complex. In college, I took a class that gave me a better understanding of the school-to-prison pipeline. When I learned about NJJN’s internship, I thought that would be a great way to help advocate for such a vulnerable group.  

How do you hope your experience with NJJN will support your goals moving forward? 

This was my first internship, and I’ve learned so much about nonprofit work in general as well as from a communication standpoint. I hope to continue working with nonprofits, and I definitely think this experience will prepare me for future internships and jobs. 

What college/post-grad course has had the biggest impact on you? Why?  

My freshman year of college, I took a class called “The New Jim Crow: African-Americans, Mass Incarceration and the Prison Industrial Complex.” The course provided a strong overview of how systemic racism in the U.S. continues to marginalize and oppress minorities, particularly Black Americans. At that point I already knew that I wanted to work for nonprofits. But because of this class, I realized that I was particularly interested in working with nonprofits focused on eliminating and reconstructing systemically racist institutions like the justice system.   

What are you most looking forward to in a post-COVID-19 world?  

I’m most looking forward to visiting friends and family who I haven’t been able to see in person for months. 

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