By Matthew Salzano ’18
PLU Marketing & Communications
TACOMA, WASH. (August 6, 2015) — Thanks to a major award, one Lute is spending her summer in a juvenile detention center — as a mentor who is paying it forward.
Jessica Milian ’15 is the second recipient honored with the Patricia L. and Thomas W. Krise Endowed Internship Fund. President and Mrs. Krise established the highly competitive internship fund last year, awarding one student applicant per summer $2,000 in financial support, and opening unpaid internship opportunities that otherwise would be out of reach.
“We think of the endowment as a way to foster PLU’s important mission while also supporting other important missions, all the while providing our students with the chance to get valuable work experience,” said President Krise.
“Patty and I established this endowed internship to be an example for others to consider imitating,” said continued Krise. “Ideally, we’d have several opportunities for PLU students to take up unpaid internships with great organizations with missions that mesh well with PLU’s mission–and get paid for their work.”
Millan, a transfer student and veteran who’s married to an active-duty soldier and served as a tutor for PLU’s inaugural Summer Academy, also was awarded a Severtson/Forest Foundation fellowship during the 2014-15 academic year. As part of that opportunity, she collaborated with PLU Associate Professor of Psychology Marianne Taylor and presented their findings at the Western Psychological Association meeting in April. And now, Milian is spending her summer as a juvenile detention officer at Remann Hall, a facility about 10 miles north of Pacific Lutheran University.
Milian said she feels “honored to receive this award” and “truly grateful” for the opportunity to put her internship as her highest priority, without juggling a summer job.
This is more than just an internship opportunity, however — for Milian, this is a full-circle moment.
Milian, a psychology major at PLU, is passionate about serving at-risk youth within the Juvenile Justice System (JJS) — one could say it is her vocation — because she was also an at-risk youth.
“I was a child who had been labeled ‘bad,’” she said via email. “I dropped out of high school after my freshman year and was caught in a cycle of shortsighted behavior.”
What saved Milian was someone who could see her for what she was — more than her mistakes, and simply a child who felt “misguided, struggling and invisible.”
“They not only saw me,” she said, “they believed in me. They gave me permission to believe in myself and to demand more of myself.”
Now, as Milian enters the community of youth she was once grouped into, she desires to pay it forward.
“I want to stand beside and be an advocate for children who, often, have been given up on,” she said. “This summer internship is my first opportunity to gain experience with youth within the JJS and a big step in the direction of my dream.”
“Jessica’s educational work with children at the Pierce County Detention Center is a great example of how well this internship can work,” said Krise. “We’re proud of Jessica!”