School of Social Work master’s student exercises advocacy through restorative justice internship

Devin Duncan is a School of Social Work master’s student who interned with the University of Colorado Boulder’s Restorative Justice Program (CURJ). Get to know Devin and her experience working with CURJ in this Q&A. 

Devin Duncan smiles outside in a burgundy jacket.

Where are you from and what brought you to CSU?

I am originally from the Midwest but have lived in Colorado for many years now and consider it home. When looking for places to go back to school, I really wanted to find a program that fit my values and offered unique opportunities for field placements and interns. That led me to CSU’s MSW program!

Why did you choose to pursue a degree in social work?

I have always known I would get my Master’s in Social Work degree at some point in my life. My mom is a social worker, so I have had the opportunity to see social work in action while growing up. Social work provides the opportunity to pursue multiple levels of practice while also advocating for social justice and equity, which is something that drew me to pursue this degree. 

What has been your favorite experience at CSU and in your major?

My favorite experience at CSU so far has been taking time to explore the campus. I love seeing the trees and mountains while driving around CSU. 

What has been your favorite part about your major?

My favorite thing about my major has been engaging in conversation with my professors and classmates. We have great classes to choose from and take in our program, and I enjoy diving deeper into topics with my cohort. It has helped expand my mind and viewpoints. 

How did you apply for your internship?

A couple of years before applying to go back to school, I became a volunteer for CURJ. I fell in love with the restorative justice process and began researching restorative practices that can be utilized in schools and community spaces. Once I became a graduate student here, I reached out to CURJ to see if they would be open to taking an intern, and I am so glad they were!

What did an average day at your internship look like?

Typically, an average day would include preparing for and running multiple restorative justice circles with students. These circles would vary with the topic and would span between 1-2 hours depending on the case. 

How are you applying what you’ve learned from school to your current position?

Many of the concepts in my program can be used in restorative justice practices. Many of the ethics are similar and I focused on bringing a trauma-informed and anti-oppressive lens into each circle to create a space where harm could be repaired effectively. 

What is the biggest lesson that you will take home from this experience?

My biggest lesson would be trusting the process. Facilitating groups can be tricky, especially with COVID, Zoom links, and varying group dynamics. However, each circle always found its way to a positive next step for everyone involved. Restorative justice circles have a flow that allows for this, and I always had to remind myself to trust the process as I was facilitating. I hope to take this mantra of trusting the process into other aspects of my life and in my career. 

What’s next? What do you hope to accomplish in the coming school year and beyond?

I am going into my last year of my MSW program this fall, which is very exciting! After graduating, I hope to work in prevention services to help create safer environments in our communities. 

What advice do you have for incoming freshmen in your major?

My advice would be to stay open and curious about the opportunities that come your way. There are so many directions you can take in this field, and it can be tricky to know where to start. I have found that by staying open to hearing about various topics within the field of social work, I have found the areas that I love and want to pursue after graduating. Also, take time for self-care! It is mentioned a lot, but it truly does help.