Internship at safe house encourages philosophy and women’s, gender, & sexuality studies major to pursue a future in social work

Veda Massanari-Thatcher '23

Through an APEX Fellowship, Veda Massanari-Thatcher ’23 experienced firsthand the setting of a safe house developed for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. A philosophy and women’s, gender & sexuality studies major at The College of Wooster, Massanari-Thatcher interned at the Catherine Cobb Safe House in Adrian, Michigan. She assisted in providing crisis intervention, resources, legal advocacy, and counseling to survivors of domestic violence.  

“This internship has solidified my plans to pursue an M.S.W. (Master of Social Work) after I graduate, and helped me realize that I would like to continue working with survivors and engage in community organizing.” 

—Veda Massanari-Thatcher ’23  

How did you learn about the internship opportunity for your APEX Fellowship? Why was the position a good fit for you? 

“I learned about this internship through searching online for local social work, and through my mother who had interned at the shelter when she was in graduate school. I chose this program specifically because the organization had a variety of social services for survivors, all of which I would be able to explore. This way I could start thinking about what kind of social work I would like to pursue.” 

What interests you most about the work you did?  

“What interested me the most about working at the shelter was learning about all the different local organizations that work together to support survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. I was unaware of just how many resources are in the community, and it was fascinating to see how these different organizations supported one another and the areas for improvement.” 

What were some of the things you did each day?  

“No day during my internship looked the same for me, which is something I loved! When I was at the shelter I would answer and respond to crisis calls, create food boxes, chat with residents about life and their needs, play and create art with kids, and help residents with their everyday needs. On other days, I would assist our legal advocate in the courthouse, visit a non-resident, or do community organizing with the sexual assault advocate. A task I completed that I did not expect to do was assisting in creating, filing, and receiving a personal protection order for one of the non-residents.” 

Who was your fellowship mentor and how did they help you to succeed in this position? 

“My fellowship mentor was Grit Herzmann, associate professor of psychology, who has been extremely helpful during my position. I was able to communicate with her online during the entire process, and she provided the space for me to process my emotions and feelings in an unbiased and supportive space. Work at the shelter was rewarding and beautiful but was also emotionally draining, and it was nice to have someone to share those feelings with. She helped me realize all the ways that the internship would prepare me for the future, and how to utilize these skills in pursuing a graduate degree.” 

What are some skills you’ve learned that you see yourself carrying forward in your career? 

“The skills I gained were confidence, the ability to actively listen, knowledge about the legal system, and how to navigate community resources, collaboration with other organizations, how to implement trauma-informed care, and effective multi-tasking.” 

How has the internship helped you to see what’s next for you?  

“This internship has solidified my plans to pursue an M.S.W. (Master of Social Work) after I graduate, and helped me realize that I would like to continue working with survivors and engage in community organizing.” 

Posted in Experiential Learning on August 15, 2022.

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Related Areas of Study

Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies

Champion the experiences of women as they intersect with race, nation, ability, class, religion, and other axes of difference

Major Minor


Delve into ethical and moral debates while critically analyzing the issues facing humanity

Major Minor

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