Flint Study Away Internship Spotlight – Olivia Feldman

July 24, 2023 - Shelly DeJong

A smiling Olivia Feldman stands in front of the Voices for Children building


Name: Olivia Feldman 

Hometown: West Bloomfield, Michigan 

Year: Junior 

Major: Psychology  


What drew you to psychology?   

Throughout my life I have always been fascinated by the way our brain works, and why we do what we do. When dealing with my own mental health journey I grew a passion for wanting to help people who have been through tough experiences, both mentally and physically.  


You’re interning with Voices for Children in Flint. What do they do there and what is your role?  

Voices for Children is a child advocacy center that supports children who have been the victim of physical abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect. They also do work in prevention and advocacy. As an intern my role depends on the day. A lot of what we do at the center is crisis based, so you never really know what you may be doing. I also have had the privilege of shadowing the different roles within our organization. I first began doing work with our CASA program. A CASA is a “court appointed special advocate”. Essentially, we train people over the course of 8 weeks, and then they are sworn in to the courts by a judge. As a CASA you are assigned a child in the foster care and court system and serve as their support system and advocate in the courtroom and outside of it. This opportunity is so beautiful because most of these kids are just in need of someone who will be their voice, especially since they don’t have a clear parental support. This program is fully volunteer based.

I also shadowed the forensic interviewer. Forensic interviewers are the people who are trained to interview victims of a crime. In my role, I am able to watch these interviews, and it has been really interesting. I also have days where I go to court hearings for our kids. I observe, take notes, and update our information logs based on what the outcome/order of each case is for that hearing. I recently shadowed our art therapist. I got to learn the intake process for someone who enters art therapy as a way of helping them process trauma. In addition to these roles, I also sit in on trainings such as safe sleep training, that teaches new parents free of charge, how to safely put their child to sleep. I also have been able to do lots of outreach in the Flint community as I table events for Voices for Children.  


What do you like most about your internship?  

My favorite part is truly just knowing that the work I do is supporting something greater than myself. No matter what I do each day, I know that in the long run I am helping a child on their healing journey. I also appreciate the little interactions with people on a day-to-day basis, whether that's my amazing co-workers, the kids, or the community.  


How has your psychology background prepared you for this internship? 

As a 3rd year psych student, I am so grateful for the knowledge I have gained academically. A lot of what I see is the real-life representation of concepts discussed in classes. It is both fascinating and heartbreaking being able to see how in some cases the development of children is different based on the trauma they have been through. It also demonstrates just how resilient the human brain is, especially in children. 


Has anything surprised you about your internship so far? 

It has been beautiful to watch the resilience of every child and some of their families here. A lot of what I see in the courtroom specifically, are parents who are in the process of terminating their parental rights, however, I recently was able to see a parent who did the work on themselves and was in the process of getting their child back.  


Can you share your experience with the Flint Summer Study Away Internship Program? What’s it been like? Why did you decide to go this route? 

The Flint Study Away program has been absolutely amazing! I was first introduced to this program opportunity through the Psychology Department’s email list. I knew I had an experiential learning requirement to fulfill, but I also knew I wanted to have hands-on experience in my field! After going to the info sessions (over yummy lunch) I decided to go for it! I had a meeting with the amazing Cathy White, where I told her all my interests and she was able to find numerous organizations that were looking for interns here in Flint. In total, I had 4 organizations reach out to me with internship offers! It was the best feeling. After some looking over, and interviewing, I decided to choose Voices for Children. I am so grateful for the opportunities I am given here. I also love the Flint community. There is an option for housing down here, but I personally commute here from West Bloomfield. In Flint, everyone is connected to each other. It is so cool to see how close every organization is, and how much they are willing to let others in to help support. Voices for Children does a lot of their advocacy in Flint, so I have been able to go around and talk to anyone from foster parents to restaurant owners, who support our mission!  


What are your hopes for the future? 

As my internship comes to a close shortly, I hope that all of the connections I have made here will last. As I enter the school year shortly, I am excited to bring all that I have learned here into my studies. I also will continue to stay connected with Voices for Children, and I plan on going to some of their community events held in the school year.  


Anything else you’d like to add?  

Cathy has also done a beautiful job making Flint a space where all of us MSU students feel welcomed! There are always events going on for us and get-togethers at restaurants! It is so nice to have a supervisor so dedicated to giving us the best experience.