DCCC Paralegal Program Offers Eye-Opening Guardian ad Litem Internships

LaVera Hassler Guardian ad Litem

Oct. 1, 2013 – Students enrolled in the Paralegal Program at Davidson County Community College learn much more than what’s in the books – they get hands-on learning through internship opportunities that give them a firsthand look at the career in the real world. In particular, students have had eye-opening experiences as Guardian ad Litem interns.

Delores Livengood, faculty for DCCC’s two-year associate’s degree paralegal program, says students who have participated in the internship are always excited to apply the skills they learn in a legal setting.

“I have found that the paralegal students who participate in the internship program gain confidence in knowing they have made a difference by being there to represent the interests of a child,” says Livengood. “At the beginning of the semester, students set objectives for themselves; it’s my mission to help and encourage them to achieve the goals they set.”

Livengood, who has taught paralegal students for 27 years, notes the internship component of the course prepares students to work with real clients and real situations; Guardian ad Litem interns often deal with abused and neglected children. The North Carolina Court System, for instance, appoints Guardian ad Litem advocates to investigate and determine the needs and interests of abused and neglected children petitioned into the court system. The program exists in every county throughout the state and serves more than 53,000 children yearly. 

DCCC paralegal student LaVera Hassler wanted to be able to give back to her community, so she opted to intern as a Guardian ad Litem advocate.

“I think this is the best way to give back; I want to be able to give a voice to children in need,” says Hassler, who is interning as a Guardian ad Litem this semester. “By doing this internship, I will be able to learn how the court system works by working closely with attorneys and the Department of Social Services.”

The experience, she says, will help her understand not only how to present herself in a courtroom, but also in writing court reports, investigating, advocating and monitoring each case and child.

Although Hassler is close to completing her internship, she says she has no plans of stopping her volunteer work as a Guardian ad Litem any time soon.

“This is a cause that I firmly believe in,” says Hassler. “The future always starts with one small act of kindness; it builds great people, and I am proud to be part of that.”

Livengood adds that students enrolled in the program truly have the power to make a difference in the community. “These internships provide students with a great deal of eye-opening experiences,” Livengood says. “Classroom learning paired with hands-on internships allow students to go out into the real world and not only be effective, but successful.”

*Editor’s Note: Pictured is LaVera Hassler outside of the Davidson County Court House.

Founded in 1963, Davidson County Community College is noted for its quality educational programs and services. As one of 58 institutions within the North Carolina Community College System, DCCC offers studies in more than 50 degree programs. A fully-accredited, multi-campus college, DCCC celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. It is committed to developing minds, inspiring imaginations, and preparing students for enhanced career and educational opportunities within a changing global environment. Visit Davidson County Community College on the Web at davidsonccc.edu.