Students at St. Cloud State are encouraged from day one to “get involved on campus” or “join a student organization.” Anna Furth didn’t quite take that advice and instead immersed herself in the St. Cloud community.
Furth has been involved in the community working part-time as an on-scene advocate at Anna Marie’s Alliance, completing a full-time summer internship with Stearns County Probations, and most recently participating in the Metro Citizens Police Academy (MCPA).
As she comes to the end of her time at St. Cloud State she reflects on her involvement in the community while in school, and how it has made her think St. Cloud is a place she wants to live and work. She focused her job search around St. Cloud and Central Minnesota. From New Ulm, Minnesota, Furth graduated in the fall of 2019 with a degree in criminal justice.
Rewind to midway through Furth’s first year at St. Cloud State when she contemplated not returning for a second semester – she didn’t feel it was the place for her. Furth began seeking out advocates to guide her: co-workers, professors, and supervisors.
“Committing myself to SCSU and the St. Cloud community has set me up for an exceptional future,” said Furth, who was quick to learn that getting involved in the community would make her feel more comfortable – more at home – and able to make the most out of her education.
Once out in the community, she saw a city that has diversity, opportunities, and a small-town feel. “St. Cloud is a hidden gem,” Furth says.
She is grateful for the educational drive she found at St. Cloud State and the experiences she obtained out in the community. “Get involved, get connected,” she boasts.
Stearns County Community Corrections
Pre-disposition reports, pre-sentence investigations, bail studies, sanction conferences, chronological accounts, juvenile adjustment reports, court hearings, meeting with clients, house visits, and even using binoculars with the Stearns County Domestic Violence Surveillance Agent filled Furth’s summer of 2019.
Furth completed a 40-hour per week (full-time) internship with Stearns County Probations where she managed a low-level juvenile caseload under the supervision of a career agent.
Under the supervision of Jeremy Gallagher, a corrections agent with Stearns County, Furth came in eager to learn and excited to familiarize herself with the inner workings of probations. “I wasn’t just impressed with Anna’s work ethic. I appreciated her genuine desire to help those who are struggling and her desire to be a constant learner.”
Furth worked side-by-side with current practitioners on day-to-day practices in various specialty areas such as mental health caseloads, drug court, domestic violence court, and veterans court.
Furth had experiences, demonstrated real-life professional practices, and gained new knowledge about her field that she would not have in the classroom. “Whether your program at SCSU requires an internship, I recommend doing an internship or even shadow a professional in your field.”
Anna Marie’s Alliance
Furth combined her need of a part-time job and desire to learn more about the criminal justice field working as an on-scene advocate at Anna Marie’s Alliance. Anna Marie’s is a private non-profit corporation dedicated to providing safe shelter, support, a criminal justice intervention program, and referral services for battered women and their children.
Duties of on-scene advocates include: working with law enforcement to explain the criminal justice process and what will happen in the courtroom to victims and assist them as needed; filling out protective orders with victims; conducting weekly support groups; attending court hearings with victims; answering crisis calls; explaining victim rights, and welcoming walk-ins. They are a general source of “calm” and assistance to victims and tend to their needs.
Furth recognizes the passion people working in human services or public affairs possess. “Working at Anna Marie’s has made clear my passion for wanting to spend my life helping others,” said Furth.
Aside from the resume material and experience the job provides, Furth found a passion that was absent before she started and a clear direction of what a future career might look like for her.
The job has not come without difficulties – losing your sense as a person. Furth learned very early to take care of herself so she can help others. “When immersed in criminal justice at school and outside of school, it is easy to become desensitized.” Furth continues on, “When this happens, I remember my passion and why I got the education that I did.”
Metro Citizens Police Academy
The MCPA is an 8-week program aimed to help community members better understand police training, procedures and philosophy through classroom and hands-on training. Furth was one of a handful of community members from St. Cloud, Sartell, Sauk Rapids, Waite Park, and St. Joseph selected to participate.
Furth saw this program as an opportunity to meet officers in her community, learn more about law enforcement practices and build a connection to the St. Cloud area.
The eight Thursday evening sessions gave Furth and other participants hands-on time with defensive tactics, firearms, obstacle driving (with lights and sirens), and more. Theoretical components included ethics, Constitutional law, ordinances, interpersonal skills, diversity, and domestic crisis intervention.
“We had many opportunities where we experienced real-life emotions, thoughts, and ideas that a police officer would in scenes or calls that they respond to,” Furth said.
A valued takeaway from this course – Furth was able to see, first-hand, the interactions with law enforcement and other criminal justice agencies. On a more personal level, she put herself into a [new] situation with a diverse group of strangers and finished the program with new friends and acquaintances in the St. Cloud community.