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Advocating for the Youth: Alum Accepts Position at YAP

Amanda Schwinger graduated with degrees in criminal justice and sociology from Lebanon Valley College

Although taking chances may seem scary, it only takes one chance to change your life forever. For Amanda Schwinger ’20, her opportunity came when a close friend from high school invited her along for a tour of LVC’s campus. 

“I had never heard of LVC before my friend showed interest but decided to go along because she insisted that I would like the school,” said Schwinger. “I suppose she was right because I submitted my application that night.”

During her time at LVC, Schwinger, a double major in sociology and criminal justice, valued the ability to gain out-of-classroom experiences and completed two independent studies and one internship. During these independent studies, Schwinger researched trauma regarding birth mothers placing their children up for adoption and the perceptions of feminism and how mass media impacts them. Schwinger interned with Youth Advocate Programs (YAP) in Lebanon as an advocate and office assistant. 

Starting her internship at YAP, Schwinger felt comfortable with what to expect because of prior fieldwork and exposure to similar situations. 

“What I didn’t realize was how much I would connect with them,” she said. “It was difficult, of course, because it takes time for you to gain an individual’s trust so that they will share with you. Once those foundations were in place, and we were able to talk openly, I honestly feel I gained as much out of, and learned as much from, our time as my clients did. This mutual benefit was something I could never have anticipated.” 

Schwinger recalled moments when one of the youths she worked with would text her and let her know that they were having a good day or something special had happened.

“This internship really solidified that I could help people in this field, and help kids make better decisions and pave a better way for themselves despite their situations, which was more than I could have hoped for.

“This was the kind of learning that couldn’t be obtained from a textbook, which I valued most,” she said.

As Schwinger completed her internship, her coworkers encouraged her to apply for a full-time position. By early May, Schwinger was offered a program coordinator position in the organization’s Tri-County office. Now, Schwinger supervises and trains incoming field staff, processes payroll, helps keep the team in compliance regarding training and certifications, and maintains contact with referral services and clients’ families.

As she moves forward professionally, Schwinger intends to obtain her master’s degree in criminology with a focus on juvenile justice in hopes of working with adolescent offenders in the future. 

“I will always remember the bond I created with my professors,” said Schwinger. “I knew them personally, and I felt like they were invested in what I was doing. This support made such a difference to me and is something I appreciate to this day.”

 

-- Parker Gallagher, Marketing & Communications Student Assistant