Adolescent Diversion Program Spotlight: Jessica Bryson

January 25, 2024 - Shelly DeJong

A photo of Jessica Bryson smiling at the camera. Jessica Bryson is a Psychology and Criminal Justice major with a minor in Youth and Society. As a sophomore, Jessica participated in the Adolescent Diversion Program (ADP) an experiential learning course that involves training undergraduate students to work with local youth who are involved in the juvenile court system. Jessica shared recently about how ADP impacted her, how it has helped shape her goals for the future, and what advice she has to future psychology majors.  



How has the Adolescent Diversion Program impacted you? 

I took the Adolescent Diversion Program in my sophomore year and was astounded by the amount that I learned and took away from this experience! I got to work closely with a juvenile as their mentor which was the most incredible thing I have ever been able to accomplish. This led me to land an internship at the Macomb County Court over the summer where I learned even more about this profession and found my true passion for it. The Adolescent Diversion Program has truly changed my life as it allowed me to find my interest and expand upon that in the real world. I would not trade that experience for anything, truly! 

This experience came to a culmination when I interviewed for an internship at the Ingham County Court. I ended up landing this position and am working in the Intensive Probation Unit this semester. All these small accomplishments that I felt during my time at MSU came to fruition as I got my dream internship which I am extremely proud of! 


Can you share a bit more about your future goals? 

I hope to go into juvenile probation and work with kids who have interacted with the juvenile justice system. I want to serve juveniles who may have had trauma or stressors in their lives that led them into the court system. I want to serve them by being not only an advocate who makes decisions based on their needs, but also legally through the court system to prove that they are not inherently “bad kids”.  

Everything that has happened in college thus far has taught me to follow my inner passion. As I started taking more psychology and criminal justice classes, I had this gut feeling that this is what I was made to do in my life. It was kind of like this “ah ha” moment where I knew exactly what career was going to make me happy because it truly does not feel like a job to me. 

Every day, I am motivated by the hope of eventually making decisions for these kids that will better their lives and being a constant support in their life. I hope to instill self-confidence in these children that they are great individuals who may have just gone astray slightly. I want to be able to demonstrate to them that they can turn their life around and become a positive member of society if they truly want that. I also hope to teach them that one mistake does not define who they are as a person or how the rest of their life is going to be. 


What is your favorite memory during your time with the Adolescent Diversion Program?   

My favorite memory during the Adolescent Diversion Program was when my youth opened up to me and I not only saw that they trusted me, but also, I was helping them accomplish their goals and grow as an individual. 


How has your experience as a psychology major impacted you? 

My experience through majoring in psychology has led me to understand people and have more empathy in many situations. It has allowed me to basically study people which has changed the relationships I have in my own life and made me wiser in numerous situations because I can understand their feelings and make my responses based off of that.  


Best Spartan spirit experience? 

My best Spartan spirit experience would have to be my freshman year when Michigan State beat Michigan in football. I was at the game and just remembered the feeling of the crowd going absolutely insane as the clock ran out, which was an experience like no other. The sea of green and white with huge smiles on their faces, collectively cheering for our team was amazing. 


Do you have any advice for future psychology majors? 

Even if something seems scary, never say no to a new opportunity. When I first heard about the Adolescent Diversion Program, I doubted myself and if I could even do that. But I said yes, and it ended up being one of the best decisions in my life. Do not be afraid to get involved in everything because the opportunities at MSU are unmatched and will lead you into possibly finding your true passion.