Alumni Profile: Christina McDermott
What are you doing now?
I am currently the Community Resource Victim Advocate and Internship Coordinator for the Victim Witness Assistance Program of the Douglas County Solicitor General’s Office. The Solicitor-General’s office prosecutes misdemeanors committed within Douglas County. The Victim Witness Assistance Program works to ensure that victim’s rights are upheld in accordance with Marcy’s Law and the Georgia Crime Victim Bill of Rights. My position focuses on connecting victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking with the community resources that can support them after a crime has been committed.
How have the skills and knowledge you learned in the Sociology M.A. program translated to your current job?
I began an internship with the Douglas County Task Force during the first semester of graduate school and used that to create my path into the world of victim advocacy. Therefore, most of my course work was, in one way or another, focused on learning about victim advocacy, domestic violence, women’s studies, volunteerism, etc.
What topics did your M.A. thesis address? What research methods did you use and what did you find?
My Thesis was titled ‘“A Different Kind of Volunteer”: The Identity of Victim Advocate Volunteers.” My research drew on ten interviews with domestic violence and sexual assault victim advocate volunteers from the agency in which I interned. Given the time demands and emotional stress of working with victims, this research investigated the motivations of these advocates to perform this work as opposed to less difficult volunteer opportunities. My research suggested that the development and maintenance of the victim advocates’ volunteer identities motivate them to continue volunteering despite the demands of the work.
What advice would you give to current students in the M.A. program?
My biggest advice for any current college student is to use the time in school to get into the professional world, build relationships with professionals, and build your resume in the area you’re most interested in working in upon graduation. When I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree, I did not have any employment opportunities because I lacked experience. Therefore, when I started the M.A. program, I also found my internship opportunity, so by the time I graduated, I had a year and a half on my resume in the field, recommendations from staff, and leads/connections which led directly to my first paid position in victim advocacy. The relationships I built continue to be essential to my career. As you might guess from my current title, Community Resource Victim Advocate, my connection with agencies and the people within those agencies is vital to the services I provide our victims.