Stacia Wasmundt

The value of an internship

"I was fortunate to secure an internship with Thurston County Superior Court's Juvenile Probation office through Dr. Hauhart's help. I ended up working with Mike, the supervisor, on a project regarding outcomes for juveniles in the program. I obtained permission to use the data we examined for my senior thesis.

"After I graduated I obtained a part-time job at the Juvenile Detention facility because they knew me from my internship. Then I was selected to become a case management staff member for Family Court.

The CJ internship program made it all possible."
- Stacia Wasmundt

Stacia Wasmundt, class of 2009

Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice with a minor in sociology

Born and raised in Olympia, Washington, Stacia Wasmundt, class of '09, is big into family. "My family and friends give me meaning. All my family is here. It's why I want to stay here for my career."

Her career began at South Puget Sound Community College where she was interested in communications. Her thoughts of journalism waned, however, when Stacia found herself taking criminal justice classes and developing an interest in criminal profiling. "The class that did it for me was David Hyde's criminology class," says Stacia. "After that, all electives were criminal justice classes!"

In 2007, Stacia transferred to Saint Martin's University to complete her degree. She'd heard it was a prestigious school and that it had a good criminal justice program, but for Stacia, what set SMU apart were small class sizes and field trips. With professors Jael Marx and Dr. Robert Hauhart, Stacia visited juvenile facilities such as Touchstone, Greenhill and Echo Glen; participated in a ride-along with the Olympia Police Department; and went on several trips to nearby prisons and jails. "You can actually say 'I've been to these places'" she declares. "I have friends at other universities where it's all textbook. All those places validated my feelings about the work I might want to do in the future."

In her second year at SMU, Stacia completed a research internship at the Thurston County Juvenile Probation Center under direction of Mike Fenton, the juvenile court administrator. That internship led to a job as a juvenile detention officer. "I never saw myself as a detention officer but the experience had made me more assertive," remarks Stacia. As a detention officer, her job is to keep the kids safe, but "they don't see it that way," she says. "They see themselves being punished."

Her true love is juvenile probation and her goal is to become a juvenile probation officer. A detention officer works in offender management within an institution, whereas the work of a probation officer "is one-on-one. You're more able to help them. With probation you get to see the success stories," says Stacia. "You get to see the change, the transformation."

Stacia did an extensive amount of volunteer work both with SMU and through outside internships. According to Stacia, this was the best decision of her college career. Directly after graduation Stacia completed the 35-hour Washington State court appointed special advocate (CASA) training. As a special advocate she utilized her writing skills to draft objective reports for the courts in dependency cases. These are cases "where kids are abused or neglected. You are the eyes and ears for the kids," Stacia explains. "I couldn't volunteer for very long because of my work schedule, but the certificate never expires unless you withdraw from the program. I know I'll do this when I retire. Getting a glimpse into their family lives is hard, but makes me want to work with these kids even more."

"I think people need to slow down and be grateful," she says, "Life is short and unpredictable. We're like a family at the juvenile center. You look out for each other." Recently, a young, fellow officer passed away unexpectedly. The impact on Stacia was profound, reminding her of what is truly important in life. Yes, Stacia Wasmundt is big into family. No matter where she goes or what she does, family will be what she builds.

College of Arts and Sciences