Guest Post: Learning the way to help others | Work of Arts
Guest Post: Learning the way to help others | Work of Arts

Guest Post: Learning the way to help others

Recent Arts grad Sydney Shewchuk finds her passion while job shadowing a probation officer

Guest posts are a feature of WOA blog that present the experiences and viewpoints of Arts students, alumni, staff and faculty. The views and opinions expressed within these posts are solely those of the authors.

 

I always knew I wanted a career where I interacted with people and helped them live healthier and more positive lives. What I didn’t know was that I would end up spending most of my Friday nights at the Edmonton Institution for Women, volunteering as a mentor. I started volunteering there in the fall of 2014 and immediately connected with the women staying at the institution.

From there I began to research and seek out people who could tell me more about what working in corrections was really like and what opportunities there were in the field. I have investigated and considered many different options including primary worker, parole officer, corrections officer, caseworker and social worker. While all these careers seem very exciting, none of them seemed like a definite fit for me.

But then I did a Law and Enforcement Career Crawl at the U of A and met a probation officer… and something clicked. When I think of myself as a probation officer, I get really excited and feel a sense of reassurance of where I want to be, and a lot of that has to do with my three days spent at the Edmonton South Adult Community Corrections, shadowing probation officer Kristen Luciow during the U of A Career Centre‘s Job Shadow Week.

Being a PO is more than just “babysitting” offenders, it is about making sure they are given the right type of supervision, services and counseling to succeed in the future.

Kristen has really opened my eyes to what it means to be a probation officer. As Kristen describes, being a probation officer is about “protecting the community by monitoring offenders within the community and contributing to their rehabilitation and reintegration.” Being a PO is more than just “babysitting” offenders, it is about making sure they are abiding by their court-ordered conditions and ensuring they are given the right type of supervision, services and counseling to succeed in the future.

I have seen Kristen go the extra mile for her clients, such as when she spent countless hours helping to find a qualified counselor who would do one-on-one domestic violence counseling, as her client has a job that requires her to travel out of town and can not attend group sessions. I have also witnessed how effectively she deals with difficult clients and can still remain calm and professional.

From answering dozens of telephone calls from other probation officers’ clients as the acting duty officer and having to record every detail of the conversation, to meeting with clients’ family members who show up unexpectedly at the office, Kristen makes being a probation officer look like a piece of cake.

If one day, I am fortunate enough (fingers crossed) to work as a probation officer, I hope I can handle my job and the stress that comes along with it as well as Kristen does. I know that despite all the stress and sometimes emotional aspects of the job, both Kristen and I believe that witnessing someone’s rehabilitation and knowing that you played a small role in helping them achieve those positive changes is the most rewarding part of being a probation officer.


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About Sydney Shewchuk

Sydney Shewchuk

Sydney Shewchuk recently graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Sociology minor. After graduation, she spent a month volunteering in South Africa at an early educational center and got to visit an elephant sanctuary. Sydney wants to do more traveling and hopes to visit every continent. She has a strong interest in the Criminal Justice System, and dreams of pursuing a career in corrections.