After graduating with a psychology degree from Thomas College, Brianna Jones ‘17 spent a year interning in Houston, Texas.
As a Hands of Hope intern, Brianna worked at the organization called Casa De Esperanza de Los Ninos – or, House of Hope for Children. Casa (for short) is a foster care organization with a goal of family reunification. Case workers work with families to get their children back through counseling, parent programs, and sometimes rehab.
“In this program I lived in a furnished home in a gated community with other interns taking care of foster children from newborn to age six. Interns were responsible for taking care of the children as well as transporting to appointments, parent visits, and directly communicating with the child’s case worker about their behavior and adjustment in the home,” said Brianna.
Brianna was grateful to get real life experience working with children who have had traumatic pasts. She learned how to work with these children who sometimes have difficult behaviors.
“Every single child that walked through our house, I made a special connection with. It’s an amazing experience to see a kid at their lowest and, with the right kind of environment and attachment rise, above their experiences to be the best self they can be. It was truly a life-changing experience for me and made me realize that I want to work with children in the future,” she said.
After her year in Houston, Brianna moved back to her home state of New Hampshire. She now works as a children’s outreach counselor at a mental health organization.
“The main reason why I passed the interview process was my experience working with emotionally distressed children in Houston. In this job I get to take kids who have a diagnosed mental illness out in the community to work on their personal goals,” she said. “I really liked working with kids to help them work towards developing coping skills for themselves so that eventually they won’t need someone else to lean on for it and can do it all on their own.”
Brianna is so thankful for these experiences and said it all began with Thomas College.
“Thomas definitely helped me on the path to where I am today. The subjects I took in child’s psychology, counseling theories, and other psych classes helped lead me on the career path I am on today,” she said. “Also, my career counselor worked with me to find the organization I worked for in Houston. I told her exactly what I was thinking of doing and she worked with me to find something that I would be interested in. The professors and counselors worked with me to help me on the right path.”
When Brianna came to Thomas College as an incoming student, she didn’t know what her passion was yet – and wasn’t sure what to major in.
“After I took my first psychology class it just clicked for me. I’ve always had a desire and passion to help others, I just never thought about a career in that. That is when I changed my major to psychology,” she said. “The thing I loved about psychology at Thomas was the professors and subject. I got to personally know every professor I had a class with and to this day I still have a relationship with them and check in often. They take initiative to get to know every student and will help with any questions you have about your career path.”
Brianna said Thomas College was the right fit for her; and she encourages others who are looking for a close-knit community to consider attending.
“I personally get overwhelmed if I am in a class with a lot of people, so it was a great environment to learn. Thomas also has great financial aid and affordable tuition that makes it easier on students and families,” she said.
Two years after graduation, Brianna is thriving and so proud that she’s found her passion.
“I truly believe that your experiences and opportunities are what shapes your character and career. I’m so grateful to have the opportunity of going to Thomas and having the chance to go to Texas and care for foster children. It has shaped who I am today,” she said. “If there is ever a moment where there is an opportunity that you are anxious or scared about, trust me take that chance. I was very hesitant on going to Texas since I didn’t know anyone there and it would be right out of college, but I met some ladies there who I consider now to be my best friends and have gained the experience of working with foster children who I have seen change for the better and live happier lives. Sometimes all it takes it one step to get towards where you need to be.”