Notice of Online Archive

  • This page is no longer being updated and remains online for informational and historical purposes only. The information is accurate as of the last page update.

    For questions about page contents, contact the Communications Division.

Working with troubled girls helped Marquis Scholar Tana Zerr ’02 of Hamburg, Pa., fulfill an ambition she has harbored since the 10th grade.

Zerr, a graduate of Hamburg Area High School, worked with girls aged 9 to 13 in a distinctive internship for academic credit at the Bethlehem, Pa., campus of Kidspeace, a national organization that helps children in crisis.

The internship was part of the course Advanced Applied Psychology, in which students apply their knowledge from academic coursework in the field. Students spend eight to ten hours a week at their internship sites, typically working routinely with a field supervisor and a faculty mentor.

Zerr says many of the girls she worked with were either sexual abuse victims or victimizers. Zerr learned behavior modification techniques, which she describes as “taking them through what they’ve done wrong and how to do it better.”

The techniques include positive reinforcement, rewarding the girls when they do something well, and “shaping,” which is achieving better behavior by reinforcing successively closer approximations to normal behavior, Zerr says.

“Kidspeace is a residential unit, so you get to see the children in all aspects of their lives, not just an hour or two. It was exactly what I wanted to do,” she says.

“I’m planning on going into child psychology in graduate school, so I felt it was necessary for me to work with children first to make sure that is really what I want to do. It’s directly in line with my major and it builds upon many of the courses I’ve had.”

Now Zerr can show graduate schools that she’s had real-world experience, too. But, she says, “The best part of the program was the chance to build relationships with the people I worked with. I became very attached to the children and I’m thankful I had the opportunity to affect their lives for the better. I hope that’s what I was doing, anyway.

“You’re at least providing them with a support system. And that does make me feel like I contributed to their well-being,” she adds.

Jamey Galle, a treatment team supervisor at Kidspeace, says, “Tana was involved in therapeutic activities and creative intervention, a lot of good stuff. She did a great job for the kids.”

Zerr is a member of Lafayette Christian Fellowship and LEAP (Lafayette Environmental Awareness and Protection) organization.

Categorized in: Academic News