Posted on March 15, 2010 by Tia Lalani

Kara Blizzard speaks to Chad Szott and Vanessa Tellier, who shadowed a probation officer for their Community Service Learning project.

By Kara Blizzard –

Most undergraduate criminology students learn theories from textbooks and articles.

This is not always the case at Augustana: this semester’s “Criminology: A Canadian Perspective” course gives students the option of completing a Community Service Learning (CSL) project instead of writing a research paper. Chad Szott and Vanessa Tellier, two sociology majors, shadowed a probation officer and learned from firsthand experience about the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

“It was a good life experience,” said Szott of his first CSL project. He spent twenty hours with a Camrose probation officer, went to Youth Court and discovered that court is not as sensational as it seems on TV. He sat in on client interviews and learned about day-to-day tasks that come with being a probation officer.

“It was pretty interesting to hear stories about the lives of some of the people who came in,” said Szott. “In Camrose, there is a whole subculture of activity going on that most people probably don’t know about.” His experience allowed him to see crime from a new perspective. Chad’s career goal is to become a police officer, so shadowing a probation officer was a good start to learning about the justice system.

Vanessa Tellier wants to become an addictions counselor. “I can see it being somewhat similar to being a probation officer, in that you see clients every day,” she reflected. “Some of them will want to change, and some don’t.”

So far, Tellier has completed about half of her twenty service hours on her third CSL project. Last year, she shadowed a Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) officer, and last semester she worked with the Camrose Association for Community Living. After each project, she relates her experience to her classroom studies.

For Tellier, CSL projects have immediate benefits. “They get you out of the classroom and away from lengthy journal articles,” she said. “I’d rather go see the material first-hand.”


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