Learning beyond the classroom: CYFS seniors gain hands-on experiences through full-time internships 


Oct. 21, 2013

This fall, six Children, Youth & Family Studies (CYFS) seniors are in the midst of completing their full-time internships. The 14-credit Field Experience course, a requirement of the CYFS major, emphasizes experiential learning by putting into practice what has been learned in the classroom. 

“It’s a distinction of our program,” said Mark Jackson, Professor & Chair of Children, Youth & Family Studies, who oversees the internships.  “Very few undergraduate programs provide this level of experience-based learning.” 

Students serve in diverse settings

Jaimie Menchaca is working with the Work Creation Program in Culver City, Calif., where she teaches vocational and life skills to young adult women with developmental disabilities.

Kristina Craig is serving Augustana Lutheran Church in Portland, pursuing her interests in congregational youth and family ministry and church-community partnerships.

Dasha Moore is completing her internship at Acorn Learning Center, Trinity Lutheran College’s onsite preschool and childcare center, where she is developing an arts curriculum for the urban, nature-based preschool.

Shelly Likkel is working with The Center in Edmonds, Wash., a Christian-based inpatient treatment center for those with addictions, eating disorders, and other mental health issues. 

Megan Taylor is a Special Education Instructional Assistant at Bellflower High School, Bellflower, Calif., where she is also coaching with the soccer program.

Leigha Lange is serving Ascension Lutheran Church in Thousand Oaks, Calif., working primarily in congregational youth ministry.  She is the third Trinity intern to serve at Ascension.

Experiential learning tailored to each student

In addition to the internship, CYFS majors complete both sophomore and junior-level practicum courses, providing a total of nearly 700 hours of on-site learning under experienced supervisors.  While sophomores must choose from approved sites, juniors and seniors are placed in internships specifically tailored to their academic and professional interests, such as youth ministry, camping leadership, counseling, community social services, children’s education, and more.

Because it’s the only class students take during fall semester, the location is also wide open.  “Our students have served all over the country in churches, camps, social service organizations, and schools.  Some have even served in other countries,” Jackson said.

Graduates leave ready for professional jobs

Leanne Elliott, a 2012 CYFS graduate, believes the internship helped her secure a full-time position. She completed over 500 hours with working in the youth ministry program at Salem Lutheran Church in Mount Vernon, Wash.

“I was offered my first job precisely because of my training from Trinity and the CYFS program,” said Elliott, who now serves as Director of Christian Education, Youth and Family Ministry at Grace Lutheran Church, Westminster, Md. “The search committee was most impressed with the wealth of knowledge and training I received that provided me with a holistic understanding of ministry and my ability to put that knowledge immediately into practice.”

For more information about the CYFS major, visit www.tlc.edu/cyfs.  See examples of practicum and internship opportunities at www.tlc.edu/cyfs/internships.html.