My name is Jessica and I am currently a student at UW Madison studying Social Work and Criminal Justice. This position is an academic yearlong placement; I started in September 2017 and will be finishing in May 2018 when I graduate. I chose Just Bakery because I believe in the mission and the people at Just Bakery and Madison-area Urban Ministry. The people here truly believe in the program and its students – this level of passion and support can be hard to find in the criminal justice world. I want to help the program take advantage of opportunities available in Madison and I want to help students here rise above and achieve their own goals – both short and long term. Just Bakery teaches so much more than the employment training program; we work on life skills and as Carmella says, we “interrupt lives”. I think that is amazing, and not many programs like this exist in the states.
I am from a small town and have always felt that there is an ability to influence lives and change systems that oppress and discriminate against people. The criminal justice system has a lot of changes that need to be made. I discovered my desire to become involved in the criminal justice system, and hopefully influence it, after reading Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. This book literally changed my career path and altered my life goals. I am passionate in hearing other people’s stories and in helping people find their own ambitions and goals. I think it is important to work with cultural humility and to work with every person individually. No experience is the same for people and no two people have the same exact experience. In the future, I hope to be able to work with trauma and healing through canine therapy somewhere in the criminal justice system. I believe that everyone has struggles and that no struggle is too big to overcome – with the right support, humans are incredibly adaptive and strong.
My position here is working as the employment skills intern. I work to educate students about employment skills and work etiquette. We do weekly workshops and assignments surrounding resume building, cover letter writing, addressing previous convictions through convictions statements, interviewing skills, and finally steps to successfully maintain employment! We try to help students learn the purpose of all these pieces of the hiring process, to develop their own skills, and to learn how to write and edit these different components to suit their needs. Just Bakery uses a strengths based approach because everyone has a talent in something. After students complete the program, I help them find and apply to jobs. I hope to continue developing and editing the employment skills educational component to be inclusive and to eventually work on outreach and create more bridges between the community and the program for students to take advantage of. Every day I come in to Just Bakery, I learn something new and amazing. The people involved – employees, volunteers, and students – have such incredible mindsets and every encounter with them is a learning experience. I am currently teaching my second class and am amazed when looking both at what I have learned and what I have taken on as a job at the program.