'Riding the Bus' to a new passion

Jaime Lilleodden's internship at the Shakopee women's prison provided her a unique experience and a newfound career path.

University of Minnesota CLA alumna Jamie Lilleodden

Jaime Lilleodden is originally from Sleepy Eye, Minnesota and a recent summa cum laude graduate from the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She completed majors in psychology and sociology of law, criminology, and deviance

An opportunity to 'ride the bus' The essayist Simeon Strunsky illustriously stated, "If you want to understand democracy, spend less time in the library with Plato, and more time on the buses with people." For a University of Minnesota undergraduate, an internship experience is a unique opportunity to "ride the bus" with the people in the Twin Cities community.


Finding an authentic experience
My internship experience with the Minnesota Department of Corrections allowed me to venture outside of Dinkytown, away from my textbooks, and beyond the secured hedge of the Women's Correctional Facility in Shakopee, MN. As a double major in psychology and sociology of law, criminology, and deviance, I realized how an authentic, applied experience with criminal offenders is necessary to even begin to understand the mind of an addict and the field of community corrections.

What Jamie worked on
Supervised by Katheryn Graeve, an experienced addiction counselor and an inspirational mentor, I was assigned a client with an extensive criminal background and a long history of chemical abuse. Like a licensed addiction counselor, I was responsible for co-facilitating her small group therapy sessions, providing treatment resources, administering assessments, and developing her individual treatment plan. Observing a need for more assistance in re-entry services, I began meeting with the individual women involved in the treatment program, discussing their transitional needs, and providing resource materials that they personally felt would be helpful in transitioning from prison to the community.

Finding her passion
By the end of my internship, I had compiled a book of resource materials for the women to use upon their re-entry into the community including meeting information, housing options, and additional treatment opportunities. Not only did I uncover an enthusiasm for counseling and a passion for re-entry services, my position as a chemical dependency intern allowed me to put a face to addiction and understand the hard reality of its consequences: prison.

A newfound path
Although an internship is not a requirement of the psychology major at the University of Minnesota, the value of the experience has been unprecedented. With the help of the CLA Internship Grant and the Psychology Engagement Scholarship, which I was awarded both fall and spring semester, I was financially able to continue my experience throughout the year. Aside from my study abroad experience in Sicily, my internship with the Minnesota Department of Corrections has been the most educational and rewarding opportunity of my undergraduate career.

Through this experience, I have decided to pursue a career in addiction counseling, specifically within the correctional community. Ultimately, my internship with the Shakopee women's prison provided me with something where textbooks fell short: experience and a newfound career path.

Jaime Lilleodden is originally from Sleepy Eye, Minnesota and a recent summa cum laude graduate from the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She completed majors in psychology and sociology of law, criminology, and deviance. As part of her college career, Jaime was a community engagement scholar, studied mafia history and politics in Sicily, Italy, was employed at the University of Minnesota YMCA and as a peer adviser for the College of Liberal Arts and completed an honors thesis project with Professor Moin Syed on international travel and cultural sensitivity. If you have any questions, please contact Jaime at lille081@gmail.com.

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This page contains a single entry by Colleen Ware published on December 7, 2011 1:44 PM.

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