Class of 2023: Criminal justice major discovers career pathway through internships, learning community and Life Design
Karlee Augustus uses out-of-classroom experiences to refine her interest within the criminal justice field
During her four years at Bowling Green State University, Karlee Augustus discovered something about herself: She’s more than capable of succeeding in her chosen career.
Augustus chose to complete her program’s internship requirements with two experiences, one at Toledo Municipal Court and another at Lucas County Adult Probation, the latter of which led Augustus to pursue being a probation officer for a career.
Initially, she was not sure how she would fare in a new career with which she had little prior exposure, but the internship delivered a formative experience that let Augustus know that she was on the right path and gave her confidence as she moves into her master’s program.
“It taught me that I’m more patient than I thought was, and also that I’m capable of doing this,” Augustus said. “It’s scary going into a field where you don’t really have that much experience, but I proved to myself that I can do this and I can be a problem solver. It really improved my confidence.”
A native of Bellefontaine, Ohio, Augustus was one of the first students to enter the Criminal Justice Learning Community, a cohort-style collection of classes through which students take the same classes and have outside-of-classroom experiences together.
Through the learning community, students take a major-specific Life Design course during their freshman year, which introduces them to the design-thinking programming now available to every undergraduate student at BGSU.
For Augustus, the Life Design class gave her the framework to evaluate what she really wanted out of a criminal justice degree: To help people.
“Life Design helped me in learning different processes to think something through,” she said. “I wasn’t the type of person who wrote things down because I never felt that it benefitted me, so I just never did it. Then I realized that if you just take a minute, compartmentalize your brain and get it on paper, it’s easier to figure things out.”
After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, Augustus will remain at BGSU to pursue a Master of Science in Criminal Justice with a specialization in victims and offenders.
Catherine Pape, an associate professor of criminal justice and the director of the Criminal Justice Learning Community, saw in Augustus a student who had the strengths needed for a career in corrections.
"Karlee is the kind of student who can work with anybody,” Pape said. “Sometimes when you assign group work, you have to manage personalities, but she’s such an even-tempered person that she can work with anybody – and that’s what makes her such a great fit for her future career as a probation officer."
Additionally, Pape said, Augustus used internships as a way to experience a wide range of the criminal justice field.
By seeing the profession from multiple angles, Augustus was able to match her interests with her career.
"The majority of our students do not seek out two internship opportunities, but she looked at it from the perspective of trying to have every experience she could have,” Pape said. “She’s a very action-oriented person who likes the helping mentality of working with clients. Within the field of corrections, you have to remind your clients that a bad experience or bad choice doesn’t have to define you forever."
Augustus said the experience of helping with a real adult probation outfit gave her the satisfaction of knowing she was on the right path.
“During my second internship, they let me interview clients, type case notes and actually send things to the court — so basically act as a real probation officer,” she said. “I realized that I like how personable it is. You can really see how you can help somebody make changes.
“I always wanted to help people, and I think this is a direct line to helping people. It was very reassuring to figure out this is what I wanted to do.”
Updated: 08/08/2023 09:51AM