Getting Started

Stephanie Birchfield is a Human Services Leadership major starting her senior year at UW-Oshkosh. Originally from Neenah, Wisconsin, Stephanie moved to Stevens Point shortly after graduating high school to pursue a degree in Elementary Education. After spending two years studying at UWSP Stephanie realized that while she loved helping children learn, her true passion is helping those in need. As a result, Stephanie transferred to UW-Oshkosh her junior year in search of a career in Human Services.

Stephanie has had the pleasure of interning at the UWSP Continuing Education office as well as volunteering at organizations such as the Boys’ and Girls’ Club, the Boys’ and Girls’ Brigade, and the Oshkosh Area Community Pantry. She is looking forward to helping others in a new setting as she begins her initial Human Services internship this fall. Follow along as Stephanie shares her experiences at the Emergency Shelter of the Fox Valley.

Summer has come to a close and I have been working hard to prepare myself for the Fall 2012 semester. While I am looking forward to classes starting again and being back on campus, the one aspect of this upcoming semester I am most looking forward to is starting my internship with the Emergency Shelter of the Fox Valley. After completing thirty hours worth of field experience at the Oshkosh Area Community Pantry this past spring, I realized how much I have yet to learn about those members of the community who might be struggling to make ends meet.  This realization led me to pursue a position at the Emergency Shelter of the Fox Valley in Appleton, Wisconsin as my initial internship in the Human Services program.

Homelessness is a very prominent issue in the Fox Valley, despite the fact that it is not always noticeable to those of us who are not directly affected by it. Like most shelters, one of the top priorities of the Emergency Shelter of the Fox Valley is to provide safe, temporary shelter for those who have no home. However, this establishment also attempts to delve deeper into the issue of homelessness by looking at the reasons behind each individual and family’s homelessness. Not only does the Emergency Shelter put on classes each morning to teach those staying at the shelter valuable life and vocational skills, but it also provides a case management program that connects individuals and families with services to help them get back on their feet. Mental health is also a major focus at the Emergency Shelter, and their Street Outreach Program aims to provide care for those whose mental illness plays a role in their homelessness.

While I am certain that I want to pursue a career in the Human Services field, I am still not exactly sure what I will be doing with my degree after I graduate. More than anything, my goal during this internship is to learn as much as I can about the field and to gain as much one-on-one experience working with those in need as I can. I think that my time at the shelter will put me in touch with people from all walks of life, and will help me become much more aware of the different services in our area that are available to those who might be struggling to make ends meet. I am very excited and eager to start my internship and learn more about my own capabilities, likes, and dislikes so that I am more certain of what types of jobs I would like to pursue after graduation.

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