• Double majoring.
  • Interested in youth corrections.
  • A fraternity member.
  • From Menlo Park, Calif.
  • A resident assistant.
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Bernie Bernstein’s internship at a youth correctional facility sparked his interest in working with young people.

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Ready for the Real World

Bernie Bernstein’s research and internship projects showed him how to apply his academics to a career.

Academic Life

From working with children who have psychological disabilities to mentoring juvenile inmates to walking dogs, David "Bernie" Bernstein has already applied his Willamette psychology and sociology lessons to the real world.

Walking dogs may not sound scholarly, but Bernie's "Psychology of Learning" class used the volunteer opportunity at the local humane society to observe different types of conditioned learning.

Another of his psychology classes volunteered at Easter Seals Children's Therapy Center, giving them a firsthand view of children with autism and other disabilities.

But the experience that had the most impact on Bernie's path was his internship at Hillcrest Youth Correctional Facility, where he met one-on-one with adolescents who are incarcerated for alcohol or drug offenses. He worked with young men to determine their treatment and help them eventually be released.

The Future

Bernie's internship showed him how to turn his interest in criminal justice into a potential career in youth corrections.

"I like working with youth because, in my mind, they still have time to change their behaviors and find a better future," he says.

After graduation he hopes to find a position at a youth correctional or detention facility. His eventual goal is to apply for the FBI's criminal profiling program, putting into practice the concepts he learned through his psychology and sociology majors. 

Why I Value Willamette

"Willamette places a lot of emphasis on getting students out of the classroom and helping them find real-world experience. My research and internship opportunities helped me see connections between what I read about in class and what actually happens in life."

Beyond the Classroom

Beyond his academic experiences, Bernie was highly involved in campus life. He worked for the admission office, played intramural club soccer, worked as a resident assistant, served on several judicial boards and joined a fraternity, Beta Theta Pi.

"Getting involved in Greek life was one of the best decisions I made at Willamette," he says. "My fraternity brothers and I had a good time and supported each other academically and socially, but we also gave back to the community through service. These are friends I will stay in touch with for the rest of my life."

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