In this month’s Khulisa voice column, we hear from Rosanna Breaks, a new Khulisa Mentor on what inspired her to become a mentor.
The decision I made to apply to become a Criminal Justice Mentor for Khulisa was an easy one, and even though I’ve only just started on my training journey, the experience so far has been incredibly positive.
I recently left my career as a solicitor to return to full time education and study towards a master’s degree in psychology, which was a daunting prospect given that I finished my undergraduate law degree at university in 2006! Whilst this decision was a difficult one to make, having spent years training to become a solicitor, I decided that I wanted to move away from the corporate world towards a career where I would be engaging with and helping individuals. Psychology seemed like a good fit for me as I have always been fascinated by human behaviour.
I have now started my studies and I am thoroughly enjoying the course, which is providing me with an understanding of the essential elements of psychology. Despite being out of full time education for over 10 years, I know that making the decision to return to university was the right thing to do: not least because it has allowed me the opportunity to volunteer alongside my studies. Whilst I am not a complete stranger to volunteering, finding the time to get involved can sometimes be difficult when you work in a job with long hours, and my previous volunteering experience was therefore some time ago, when I completed a charity
internship at the Mississippi Office of Capital Post Conviction Counsel in 2009. The office is an organisation that provides legal representation to people on death row.
During the 5 months I spent as an intern, I travelled extensively around the state, assisting the attorneys with their cases, and I was tasked with locating and interviewing potential character witnesses, with a view to uncovering information to assist the appeals of death row inmates. This included speaking with a number of the inmates, whom I met whilst visiting the death row wing of Parchman prison, their families, and people from their past, such as school friends and former teachers.
My time spent there was eye opening. It is an experience that I have never forgotten, and my interest in criminology and criminal justice has continued. When my psychology course started, I was eager to become involved in a volunteering role that would complement my studies, and I decided that I wanted to volunteer for a charity that provides support to individuals within the UK who have become involved in the criminal justice process. Khulisa fitted the bill perfectly.
I was particularly drawn to the Criminal Justice Mentor role due to the emphasis that is placed upon the rehabilitation of offenders and the fact that Khulisa aim to reduce re-offending. The collaborative approach promoted within the role also really appealed to me and I am looking forward to working with people to encourage them to make positive changes. I am hoping to pursue a future career in the field of forensic psychology, and I think that volunteering for Khulisa will provide me with great opportunities to develop my
skills and gain practical, “hands-on” experience.
Overall, I am really glad I decided to volunteer for Khulisa and I am really looking forward to completing my training, so I can move on the next stage of the process where I am hoping that I will be assigned a mentee to work with.