Alyson Stevens, who just graduated in December, finished her Stockton undergraduate career interning as a Public Policy Associate at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) in Washington, D.C.
“While living and working in D.C., I have developed new academic and professional skills to achieve my career aspirations,” said Alyson, who was the recipient of a $1,000 scholarship from the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton.
She is one of over 1,000 Stockton students who have completed para-professional internships in Washington, D.C. since the 1970s, more than from any other college. Stockton is affiliated with the nation’s largest internship organization, The Washington Center (TWC) for Internships and Academic Seminars.
Stevens got her B.A. in Psychology with dual minors in Gerontology and Holistic Health in the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences.
“Being a part of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention team has given me an opportunity to professionally demonstrate everything I have learned being a Psychology major,” she said. “I have directly used knowledge from my classes in school to my full-time work environment.”
She said she was able to “use my background from Experimental Psychology to conduct research for alternative medicines in mental health” – something the foundation had not been discussing.
While in Washington, she also evaluated federal and state policy, legislation and regulation to help the foundation formulate new strategies for preventing suicide.
She said she helped in the foundation create strategies for broadening the base of grassroots advocates for suicide prevention, including use of new media and web-based opportunities to promote AFSP’s mission.
“Although I am only one small person, I believe I am contributing to a greater cause,” Stevens said of the work at AFSP. “I know we are helping thousands of individuals.”
‘The quality of skills I have extended since living in D.C. is remarkable,” she continued. “I currently have significant knowledge of working within a nonprofit, an in-depth understanding of health care, and the importance of grassroots organizations. All of these skills are necessary for the profession I am choosing to pursue.”
“My entire D.C. experience has opened my mind to new ideas and future career paths,” said the Jackson, Ocean County resident. “This process of discovery has been monumental to me. Since working at AFSP, I have found a niche in the world of mental health.”
Stevens said she eventually plans to earn a master’s degree in Psychology and a future license in counseling. She will work for a while before going back to school, and is applying to not-for-profit jobs and anything in the field of mental health.
“My interest in alternative health will not be wasted, as I plan to receive a certification in herbal remedies” in the new year, Stevens said. “I hope to one day use all of my knowledge of counseling and alternative health to create a fulfilling life for myself.”