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The SJP Experience: Helping Support Parents on Chicago’s Northwest Side

Stories | 09.12.19

At Adler University, first-year students work with community organizations as intern advocates to help advance social justice. At the end of each year, students present on what they have experienced and learned through their Social Justice Practicum (SJP) at campus-wide events—and here on our University blog.

Charnell Montgomery, a Chicago Campus student in the Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) in Clinical Psychology program with an emphasis in Military Clinical Psychology and Substance Abuse Treatment, completed her SJP at Northwest Side Housing Center. The nonprofit organization works to improve the economic well-being and quality of life for Chicago’s Belmont Cragin neighborhood and surrounding communities. 

While she was at Northwest Side Housing Center, Montgomery had the opportunity to run a self-care group for parents, and provide workshops on topics such as domestic violence and CPR training. She also helped run the in-house daycare center as a part of the Parent University team. Montgomery shared her SJP experience with us.

What did you enjoy most about your internship and the Northwest Side Housing Center?

I enjoyed working at Steinmetz College Prep High School with Chicago Public School’s Parent University. My role was to help implement workshops such as the self-care group I started. I gained experience working with the Latino population and really learned a lot from working with the parents. I also enjoyed providing my ideas to the staff at Northwest Side Housing Center on things that will benefit people in Belmont Cragin and surrounding communities. Every day that I went to work at Northwest Side Housing Center, I was exposed to something new and amazing.

How do you think this SJP experience has impacted your studies and future career?

It has impacted my studies and future career by preparing me to help people regardless of culture differences. I feel more confident that I know how to provide the best resources to help the client get the best assistance possible, even if I cannot help a potential client. I am someone who is always interested in learning about other cultures and believe that working in this field will provide me with so much knowledge and hands-on experience to be a resource to my future clients.

What are your future plans?

I plan on working as a military psychologist and opening up shelters throughout Cook County. I have been volunteering at a men’s shelter in Chicago for two years co-facilitating a men’s empowerment group. I want to provide a safe place where people can come and get a GED, job training, support groups, case management, healthcare, and housing assistance so that they hopefully never have to worry about being homeless again. I have always loved helping people and talking to people. I feel this SJP experience, my studies, and my volunteer experience are all continuing to prepare me to be the best psychologist I can be and help as many people as I can.

Why is important to you to work to help marginalized communities and advance social justice?

All my life, I was taught to always give to others. It is important to me to work to help marginalized communities because no one should be prevented from having opportunities to make a life for themselves. So many people in Chicago are struggling to find housing, food, jobs, education, mental health services, and healthcare. I believe everyone should have equal opportunities in this world, and no one should be left behind. When people are denied access to basic human needs, it affects all of us, whether we want to believe it or not, and it could easily be me or anyone one of us.

What does social justice mean to you?

Social justice means to me that every person deserves to be treated equally regardless of race, gender, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, religion, etc. It means standing up so everyone can be who they want to be without discrimination. Making sure resources such as mental health facilities, education, food, shelter, and support services are always available to everyone. There is so much work to do in this country, and as a future psychologist, I want to do my part to help ensure everyone is given the same opportunities whether they are future clients or not.

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