Morgan Smigielski

2019 recipient of the Audrey J. Harris Summer Internship Award


Interned with the Office of the Wisconsin State Public Defender in the Jail Intake unit

At the completion of this internship, I will officially be a graduate of UW Madison. I have worked towards a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Criminal Justice Certificate. My career goal is to be a Forensic Psychologist. I specifically want to work with incarcerated individuals with mental illness or substance abuse issues and advocate for them.

This 2019 summer, I interned at the Office of the Wisconsin State Public Defender in the Jail Intake unit. Here, my tasks primarily included writing up booking sheets and going to the jail to conduct eligibility interviews for inmates to see if they qualify for a public defender. This internship gave me the exposure and experience with a jail population and only confirmed that this is the area that I want to work in.

Being an intern that frequents the jail is exciting, intimidating, rewarding, and a huge learning experience. From my visits there, I dealt with all types of people, from aggressive to mentally ill, to those dealing with drugs, along with people that did not seem to fit in with that crowd. The most memorable thing I will keep with me as I work with this population in the future is that despite the fact that these people committed a crime, they are still people and need to be treated as such. I realized the importance of having a calm and empathetic voice. The most rewarding part of talking to these people was being a listening ear when they needed and letting them know that someone is on their side and wants to advocate for them. Although I could only help so much within the realms of my authority and knowledge, telling these people I will keep my fingers crossed for them always seemed to be a reassuring factor to them. This experience taught me how important it is to be a smiling, upbeat presence in a setting like this.

I am so grateful for this experience as it solidified my desire to work within this field. It allowed me the opportunity to indulge myself in this field and test it out. I am going to have a hard time leaving this internship.

Without the Audrey J. Harris Scholarship, I would not have been able to enjoy this internship as much I did because I would have had to stress more about compensating for this unpaid internship. I am so appreciative of these funds as this experience would not have been entirely possible without it. Thank you to the Audrey J. Harris Family, your generosity will not be forgotten.