Summer Interns Deliver a Blast of Energy to Vail Place

Summer Interns Deliver a Blast of Energy to Vail Place

Miranda Jackson (left) and Natalie Fernandez Rodriguez

This year our partnership with the University of Minnesota’s School of Social Work graduate program brought two energetic, refreshing new voices to the Vail Place team.  Earlier this summer U of M graduate program students Miranda Jackson and Naomi Fernandez Rodriguez joined Vail Place as interns working primarily within our case management team. Both advanced standing students (which means they complete the program in one year), Miranda and Naomi are in the process of completing a Master in Social Work (MSW) degree with a concentration in clinical mental health. Part of their program requires completing a 600-hour practicum, which led them to Vail Place.

“Vail Place has enjoyed a long and mutually beneficial relationship with the U of M’s social work program,” said Vicky Couillard, Executive Director for Vail Place. “The caliber of students we’ve met through this partnership has always been outstanding. Miranda and Naomi have represented two of the brightest so far. I have to say they’ve contributed just as much to Vail Place as they’ve learned from us.”

Like many of our previous interns, Miranda and Naomi were attracted to the multiple opportunities for learning and growth at Vail Place. Both were thrilled to be placed as interns within the case management team.

“When I first read about the opening, it was obvious that Vail Place was growing in many new and exciting areas,” said Naomi, a native of Puerto Rico who came to Minnesota for graduate school. “My special interests include a social work fellowship focused on integrated behavioral health and Vail Place has been able to provide me with experience in that area. I also thought the Clubhouse model was very interesting.”

With an undergraduate degree in social work from Frostberg State University in Maryland, Miranda’s past experience included working with adults with SPMI as they were leaving the hospital and returning to the community. She was intrigued by Vail Place’s programs with North Memorial, and felt those fit closely with her interests and previous background. “I also really liked the Clubhouse model,” Miranda says. “I loved hanging out at the Clubhouses and getting to know the members.”

Right from the beginning of their internships, Miranda and Naomi were assigned case management duties including monitoring, referring and coordinating services for clients. The pair helped developed a new resource guide for Vail Place case managers, and both volunteered within the Clubhouses as well. “I have loved being part of a group that cares so much about the work they do,” Miranda says. “From the start I felt as though my opinions and ideas were valued. The entire staff has been incredibly welcoming and patient.”

Naomi agrees, and mentions the “incredible” supervision of staff members like Dan Newman, who she says has been “the key to my success and learning experience at Vail Place. This has been such a great internship. Not only has it been great for learning and completing my goals, the people here are like a family. The teamwork is something you can feel and see.”

Both Naomi and Miranda agree it has been exciting to be part of a growing and successful organization that is able to remain client-centered. It’s been so rewarding, in fact, that Miranda has joined the Vail Place case management team as a full time employee. Naomi is considering becoming a full-timer as well once her internship ends on September 9th.

There’s only one slight problem,  however. We did mention that both women grew up pretty far south of Minnesota. Both Miranda, a Maryland native, and Naomi, who grew up in Puerto Rico, agree that dealing with Minnesota winters may be the toughest part of the equation!