Previously published in the Cardinal student newspaper
by Jesus Martinez, Managing & Advertising Editor
A Saint Mary’s student helped better clients’ developmental disabilities in order for them to become more independent during her psychology internship at Winona Home and Community Options, Inc. (HCO).
Yasmin Duarte, a senior psychology and Spanish major, said she had to work with clients of all ages with developmental disabilities. According to Duarte, her daily tasks at the HCO facility were to help clients develop their everyday routine in order to become more independent.
“Some of my tasks included setting up bingo games, taking them on walks, taking them shopping, helping them do their laundry, simply talking and interacting with them, and even helping them go to the bathroom,” said Duarte. “My job was to help my clients meet their goals, and I would collect data to see what was working and what was not,” said Duarte.
The most rewarding part of her internship was seeing the progress that her clients were making, even if they were just minor improvements, said Duarte.
Duarte mentioned her favorite part of her internship was working with the “Fiddler on the Roof” musical production. She said that every year HCO, a non-profit organization, puts on a musical for the community to fundraise for clients who cannot afford treatment.
“I helped these individuals memorize lines, dance moves, check to see if their basic needs were taken care of, check for fatigue level, provide support, and interact with them,” said Duarte. She said it’s an experience she will never forget.
Duarte said she sought an experience in her field of study where she worked with people with developmental disabilities of all ages, and that her internship at HCO had met her expectations to prepare her well for her future.
Duarte recommended that any student studying psychology or human services at Saint Mary’s complete an internship with HCO. “It’s a great site for people who want to work with people with disabilities,” she said, “or simply want to gain experience with social work.”
“My classes at Saint Mary’s have really helped prepare me for my internship at HCO. People underestimate small universities, but I feel that the Saint Mary’s psychology department has well-prepared me,” said Duarte. “I give thanks to my close interaction with my psychology professors.”