Hannah Zack ’18

Hannah Zack ’18

Majors: Psychology and sociology
Internship: Research assistant with Assistant Professor of Psychology Christina Riggs Romaine at Wheaton
Funding source: Trustee Scholarship

Contributing to study of court process: “This summer I worked with Assistant Professor of Psychology Christina Riggs Romaine at Wheaton. She is the principal investigator on a study examining individual and clinical factors presented by youth evaluated for competency to stand trial in the juvenile courts. Everyone charged with a crime in the U.S. has the right to be competent to stand trial, to understand what is happening in court and to be able to work with his or her attorney. If it appears a person is not competent, the court refers the person to have an evaluation by a psychologist or psychiatrist. As a research assistant, I did coding that involves pulling information from the forensic evaluation reports written by the psychologists and psychiatrists that describe the person’s background, mental health and court-related abilities.”

Gaining valuable experience: “Research is vital to the work I hope to do in the future because I want to work with court-involved youth as a lawyer or a clinician. I can confidently say that I have walked away from this internship with extensive knowledge of legal terminology, the workings of juvenile court, and the systems that exist to support youth in need on a systemic level.”

Working with a mentor: “I came to Wheaton because of the prized student-faculty relationships. I was lucky to be recruited by a professor who shares similar passions as I do, and I get to hear her first-hand experiences working in the system. Professor Riggs Romaine has become my academic mentor: she knows how to push me to do my best work but also supports me when I need help.”

Confirming future plans: “This experience has solidified my plans to work within the juvenile justice system. I enjoy reading the clinical aspect of reports, I am devoted to standing up for those who have been left voiceless. I am hoping to get into a J.D./M.S.W. degree program, which means I would have the educational background to become a lawyer and a social worker. I don’t want to limit my future opportunities and choosing between the two is impossible.”

More summer internships

Wheaton students gain essential career skills at sites throughout the country and around the world with support from internship funding. These opportunities are part of the college’s commitment to experiential learning formalized through the Wheaton Edge. Return to main page.