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Summer Intern Protects Kids with Guardian ad Litem

Published: June 21, 2010
After the guest speaker from Guardian ad Litem finished her presentation to UT’s Criminology Club, Randi Radziszewski ’10 knew she wanted to be involved with the organization.

It took her until the summer to find the opportunity in an internship in her hometown of Charlotte, NC, but Radziszewski is learning her voice as an advocate is crucial in court.

“You can really change a child’s life,” said Radziszewski, criminology major and secretary of the Criminology Club .

Guardian ad Litem trains independent, volunteer advocates to speak in the best interest of abused and neglected children in the state court system. Volunteers help ensure a child has visitation with his or her siblings, is doing well in school and is healthy.

“All of them have been abused or neglected by a parent or guardian,” she said. “They are overlooked. They do have wishes, and I want to help give them that voice.”

The job can get overwhelming: preparing cases for court, contacting foster parents to get an update on the child, filing court record sheets, attending court hearings and mediations, and distributing court reports. But when Radziszewski goes on a home visit to see the children in foster care, she said it makes it all worth it.

“I’ve already heard a bunch of terrible stories about what some of these kids have been through, but when you see them in foster care smiling and doing well, it’s really cool,” Radziszewski said. “It’s really fulfilling.”

While finalizing details for a fall internship with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Radziszewski said her internship coordinator, Dr. Kathryn Branch , suggested looking into a summer internship too.

"As an intern, Randi has the unique opportunity to work with a partnership of community advocates including child protective investigators, attorneys, judges, counselors and trained volunteers,” Branch said.

This opportunity to see firsthand how the dependency system operates and how a child abuse case is processed through the system is “an awesome opportunity for her to apply the information she has learned in a classroom environment to the reality of child abuse," Branch said.

Radziszewski said the internship is already making her reconsider career paths from strictly criminal law to maybe juvenile law too. She also wants to continue volunteering when the internship is over.

“Before this I just wanted to be a criminal prosecutor,” Radziszewski said. “But now I’m open to juvenile law. I know it’d be a tough job, and you’d see a lot of sad things, but I think it’d be very fulfilling.”

Jamie Pilarczyk, Web Writer
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