Pham: Prison does have something to offer


Like many college students, I was looking for something vastly different to put on my resume for when I graduate and get out into the “real world.”

After all of the vigorous internships and jobs that I have had in the past four years, I knew that I wanted to do some type of volunteer work.

Of course, there are tons of volunteer opportunities available that would help me incorporate the knowledge that I have received from many of my classes, but I wanted something unusual, something that would catch an employer’s eye and basically something out of my norm.

It was not until I received one of those ridiculously annoying mass e-mails that I knew what I wanted to do. I decided to go to prison. No, not because I did something crazy or illegal, but because the idea of volunteering at a prison was just want I was looking for.

Prison, doesn’t the word even sound intimidating? Well it can be, if you are the one actually behind the bars. But if you are a volunteer like me, it is awesome.

Through the Simpson Urban Studies Institute (SUSI), I am able to volunteer and teach every week at Iowa’s Correctional Institution for Women.

Not only does it look good on my resume, it also gave me the opportunity to meet several interesting women and teach them about a topic that I have been studying. Volunteering at a women’s prison can be intimidating at first, but it really is safe and fun. 

It is my second semester teaching at the women’s prison, and it has been one of the best things that I have decided to do in my years at Simpson. It is a great program to get involved with and it does not demand much time.

Find something interesting that you would want to teach, build your lesson plan and apply. You will teach with a partner and there is always a guard available.

Not only will these women value your time and intelligence, you will also make a difference and help someone learn the life skills they need to get back into the world outside of the bars.

Get involved, do something outside of your norm and help someone. Volunteering at a prison may not be what you are looking for, but it is at least one great opportunity to consider.