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"The Guardian ad Litem Program has truly changed my life. It's taught me that regardless of appearances, on the inside, we are all alike."
Criminology Major, Child Development & Sociology Minors
"Sometimes I think of myself as the motherly type—I love to help children," says Jessica Singer. "Often, they are placed in situations in which they have no control and do not know how to cope."
Jessica chose Criminology as her major, with an eye on a career in Family Law. "Learning the basics about the law will be beneficial. I added the minors because I love learning how people of different races, backgrounds, and socioeconomic levels live and raise families."
Throughout her college career, Jessica has volunteered for numerous programs to gain "real world" experience. As a freshman, she served on FSU's Student Judicial Board, which adjudicates violations made against the Student Conduct Code. "It taught me to be objective and to gather all of the facts before making a decision."
For the America Reads Program, she taught local elementary school children to read. "I never found sitting behind a desk to be enjoyable but going out into the community has been rewarding." Last summer, she joined the Guardian Ad Litem Program, in which volunteers are appointed by the Court to advocate for children who come into the system, primarily as a result of alleged abuse or neglect. Currently, Jessica is a Guardian for two families, each with two children. In one, the parents are incarcerated; the other family is homeless, living in a shelter with their newborn baby.
"Some people would call these families trash, but that is not the case. They have had bad luck and made bad decisions. Their children, however, are resilient, doing well in school, and adjusting as well as they can." Jessica's recommendations, and those of the attorney and judge, determine whether the children should continue to live with their parents, or have their parental rights terminated.
She says of the experience, "This program has truly changed my life. It's taught me that regardless of appearances, on the inside, we are all alike. I know I am genuinely helping, and there is no better feeling than knowing you've made a positive impact on another's life."
In the fall, Jessica, a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority, will serve on the Greek Judicial Board. She says, "It might seem fun to break the rules but that can bring serious consequences. By being a part of the Board, I can help enforce the rules, to make sure the environment is safer for everyone."