How students benefit from involvement in the MSU Adolescent Project

Over the years the MSU Adolescent Project has worked with thousands of students. We have drawn upon our work with students to put together this brief list of ways in which students are enriched from participating in MSUAP. However, this is more than just antidotal evidence. We have scientific evidence to support our claim that students benefit from their participation with us.

  • Students learn to apply theoretical principles to a real world setting
  • Leadership and interpersonal skills development
  • Rigorous advocacy training
  • Level of commitment
  • Practical experience in human services field
  • Research shows that students who participate in MSUAP are more likely to achieve their career goals in human services.
  • Involvement with MSUAP confirms (or disconfirms) student’s interest in Psychology giving them more security in their career decision-making.
  • The experience makes students have increased marketability when applying to graduate school and seeking future employment
  • Intimate classroom setting allows for relationship building and increases the chances of receiving quality letters of recommendation (Student to Instructor ratio 6:1)

Chance to Make a Difference

The experience students receive with MSUAP often qualifies them for competitive positions in the field of psychology. During their involvement with us they have an oppurtunity to:

  • Design an intervention for delinquent youth
  • Implement their intervention
  • Monitor and troubleshoot their intervention
  • Interact with human service professionals in the community

As thoroughly discussed in such articles “The Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency: Diversion from the Juvenile Justice System,” the Adolescent Development Project has over 20 years of evidence to demonstrate that we are an effective alternative to juvenile court for local youths.

This effectiveness has earned the project national awards from:

  • American Psychological Association
  • National Institute of Justice
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • The National Association of Chief’s of Police.

Here are a few experiences from the former and current students:

“Before my experience in MSUAP, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life. Just like with every other student coming to college, I kept thinking about a teacher or case worker – something common, that I could finish in a short amount of time. I have known forever that I love working with children and teenagers, so when I heard about MSUAP, I decided that it was something I definitely wanted to interview for. The idea of a strength-based approach, focusing on the positives (strengths) that youth already possess is fascinating to me. I also love the idea of coming up with my own ways of learning and teaching a youth in the community. Before MSUAP, I never thought about higher education. I believed that I would go to MSU, get a Bachelors Degree, and then leave as quickly as I came. Thanks to MSUAP, I am applying for Clinical/Community Psychology Programs all throughout the U.S. pursuing my Doctoral Degree. My dream is to one day develop a program, at a different institution that incorporates everything that I learned and applied in MSUAP. The founder, Dr. William Davidson, Jr. and director, Sean Hankins played major roles in my life as well: firstly, by accepting me into the MSU Adolescent Project and seeing potential in me, and secondly, becoming life-long mentors in my life who constantly push me to my fullest potential. MSUAP is life altering – if you believe that one person can make a difference; MSUAP is the phenomenal program for you.”

Ben Oosterhoff, Clinical Psychology, Ph.D Student

My experiences with MSUAP allowed me to open my mind and heart to a side of myself I never knew existed. Working with my youth and learning about the cases of my peers caused me to reflect and evaluate my own life and values. The youth I met through this program inspired me. I was shown how as a result of guidance and support young people can become resilient, despite negative and often traumatic circumstances. While I was previously unaware of the positive impact I could have on the lives of others, I was able to experience the rewards of enabling change. MSUAP taught me empowerment skills to make a difference in the world that we live in and no longer remain a bystander which is why I have chosen to pursue a career in social work at the State University of New York at Albany.

Amanda Farmer, Current Student

MSUAP creates opportunity on both ends of the spectrum. Rather than taking a class where you feel as though you are “burning the candle at both ends” you are essentially building at both ends. By delving into a community of resources you’ll find numerous ways in which to interact positively with various social organizations and build networks of support. Through MSUAP, I truly witnessed the social and financial inequities of adolescents and their potential to rise above their circumstances. One voice, one listening ear, one guiding hand can greatly influence the life of an adolescent facing otherwise adverse obstacles, encouraging them to strive for higher goals and persist through challenging times. Because of the hands on experience I gained from MSUAP I was able to discover my passion for using creative art in working with at-risk youth.

Maria Sica, MSW Student Michigan State University

“MSUAP allowed me to explore the career of social work in a supportive and rich educational environment. I was able to learn not only from my own case, but from the cases of my peers in a hands-on approach that I would not have found anywhere else. The program was intense and challenged, among other things, my creativity and resilience. Ultimately, I found that as my youth began to find his way in life, I found mine as well.”

Jonathan Litt (former student and teaching assistant)

I always knew I wanted to work with children and their families; however, prior to MSUAP I wasn’t sure in what capacity that would be. Through participating in MSUAP it changed the way I viewed at risk adolescents. I took to the population and they took to me immediately it was through my experience with MSUAP that I knew this population was my calling. I have since gone on to become a licensed clinical social worker working with at risk juveniles. MSUAP was the key reason that I academically pursued a graduated degree and pursued my current career track.

For more information about this program, please contact:

Sean Hankins, MSW
Psychology Instructor & Social Instructor
Director/Field Instructor
MSU Adolescent Project
Rm#236 Psychology Bld