University News

Where in the World are WIU LEJA Interns

June 3, 2019


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From the Winter/Spring Issue of Western: The Magazine for Western Illinois University Alumni

By Alisha Looney MA'13

Western Illinois University's School of Law Enforcement and Justice Administration (LEJA) recently debuted a new interactive internship Google map, which displays nine categories of criminal justice internships and locations where students are placed, on the school's website. The map also displays the agencies, organizations and companies that actively solicit WIU students for open positions within their organizations.

According to Jill Joline Myers, School of LEJA director, more pins will be added as students are placed in internships throughout the coming years. Myers added that while the map shows criminal justice placements within the previous and current academic years, over the school's 50-year history, student interns have worked at approximately 1,400 locations
worldwide.

"What's great about this interactive map is you can choose the criminal justice category and see exactly where our interns are placed—from D.C. to California to Florida and beyond—and by clicking on a pin, you can see the specific agency supporting our interns, such as Interpol in Washington D.C., a state prison in South Dakota, a security agency in Las
Vegas, the Bloomington Fire Department, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Kansas City, the Kankakee County State's Attorney and the myriad of various agencies within the state of Illinois, nationally and internationally," Myers added. "We're thrilled to show our current students, as well as prospective students, just how far their degree will
take them."

Senior LEJA major Ines Palmiero Herrera traveled to Viladecavalls, Spain in Summer 2018 to work with the local police department. She said that while she mostly assisted with paperwork and learned how to properly complete reports, she also attended a firearms training.

"They let me attend a shooting drill. A police chief was there from another city and he explained what they were doing and what they were learning," said Palmiero Herrera. "He told me the officers can't seize something or enter a house unless they have this or this or this, and I told him all of this was the same as in the States. I had learned all of this in my classes at Western."

Another student explained how Western went above and beyond to make sure that she was able to attend classes after her life took a different direction.

Miranda McDonald '18, an LEJA graduate student, began to take classes at Western in 2012 and was only a year in when she accepted a position as a correctional officer for the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC), which required her to participate in a training academy that did not allow contact with the outside world during the week. She wanted to return to Western, but her new schedule was too demanding. She took some online courses, but at the
time, the online courses were limited and she eventually ran out of courses.

"One day at work, I received an email from WIU saying the school was beginning to partner with IDOC to help state employees like me," explained McDonald. "I was so excited that I emailed the department head [Myers] and told her my story. She was able to work with academic advisor Stacey Dorsett '89 to create a specific schedule just so I could
continue my studies. I am forever grateful! And because of the integrated bachelor's/master's program, I was able to take my last three courses for my bachelor's degree and also have them count toward my master's."

A 2016 alumna who has been working for the U.S. Secret Service for almost a year was recently assigned to the White House, and she said she would not be in the position she is without the help of Western.

"I could not have done it without the WIU LEJA professors," she said. "I want to let Western students know that anything is possible. I never believed I would be assigned to the White House, never in a million years. WIU has a lot of great opportunities and great professors. I would not be where I am today without their guidance, patience and drive to teach."

Western's School of LEJA boasts nearly 13,200 alumni around the world, and nearly 2,000 students are currently enrolled as LEJA majors and/or minors. For more information, visit LEJA@wiu.edu or call (309) 298-1038.

Posted By: Alisha Looney (AA-Looney@wiu.edu)
Office of University Relations