Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Reforming His Future One Internship At A Time: Meet DeVonte Douglass

DeVonte Douglass always knew he wanted to go to college, but was not quite sure what program matched his interests most. Then, one day, he had a realization. He had personally witnessed family and friends going through the justice system without a supportive advocate or representation, and that is when he decided to make it his goal to become that person for others.

“I saw a need in the justice system for reformation, especially in Philadelphia and knew I wanted to make a difference, so that is when I decided to enter into the criminal justice field,” explained DeVonte.

DeVonte had originally heard about Peirce College when he was in high school from his assistant principal. At the time of deciding on colleges, he ended up going to a bigger school, but found it was not the right fit for him. That’s when he gave Peirce College a call.

“After not finding the right fit at my original school, I decided to call Peirce and spoke with Blake Scull, my Enrollment Specialist. He walked me through the application, took me on tour, and once I saw the law library, I was hooked. Blake has been there for me ever since and has always been a reliable resource for me,” said DeVonte.

DeVonte originally enrolled in the Associate in Science in Criminal Justice program eager to earn his first degree. After working hard, he accomplished this goal in 2018 and immediately moved on to earning his Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice.

Once DeVonte became invested in his education, he knew he wanted to do more to invest in his future. He looked into Peirce College’s internship program where he was able to be matched with Honorable Judge Zachary Shaffer for two different internship experiences.

DeVonte shared his most recent experience working for Judge Shaffer at the Juanita Kidd Stout Center for Criminal Justice, where he learned the ins and outs of the law. Judge Shaffer gave DeVonte responsibilities typically provided to law students. DeVonte was so dedicated to learning and growing, that he found himself excelling in his internship. DeVonte was assigned tasks that involved handling sensitive information, contacting critical personnel, and looking into job opportunities for the incarcerated. DeVonte took his internship very seriously and found it to be the perfect way to follow his dream of reformation in the justice system, learning from someone who shared his passion.

“I learned from Judge Shaffer how he dedicates himself to providing resources to those who have been sentenced to jail. He offers opportunities for them to better their lives through jobs, housing information, and more,” explained DeVonte. “I learned how important it is to offer these resources to assist in transitioning those incarcerated back into society.”

Beyond locating resources, DeVonte was also given the task of setting up next steps for those who were found guilty. He would discuss mental health evaluations, probation set-up and more, getting hands-on experience supporting individuals in the justice system.

With the combination of this internship experience and his knowledge from the classroom, DeVonte feels prepared to continue progressing in his educational journey right into law school. He said, “Through my internship, I gained so much and it was such a rewarding experience. And in my Peirce classes, I have and continue to learn unique ways to think and present ideas. I have been able to play devil’s advocate and take opposing sides to sharpen my debate skills. All of this combined has prepared me to move on to law school.”

DeVonte offered advice to all those also considering a career in the criminal justice field saying, “Make time for an internship and prioritize networking. It is so important in this line of work as you will get to meet others who share your passion and support your dreams. It is a great way to best prepare yourself.”

Peirce College wishes DeVonte the best of luck as he continues to complete his bachelor’s degree and pursue a law degree.