Morgantown, W.Va. native Emma Harrison, a junior Honors College student and Puskar Scholar studying political science and leadership studies, details her internship with the West Virginia Innocence Project and how what she has learned there has prepared her for her future career. Harrison has studied abroad several times, and she also shares her experiences in the many countries she has visited.
How did you become interested in political science?
I’ve always been interested in politics, with a specific interest in the electoral process, so I thought political science would be a good fit for me. I wanted to expand my understanding of the government and its intricacies, and this program has exceeded my expectations. I have been able to mold the major to my interests in travel and prison reform, which is perfect for me.
What was your experience with the West Virginia Innocence Project like?
At the West Virginia Innocence Project, where I have interned since fall 2016, I have performed a multitude of tasks including social media, fundraising, web design, answering client mail and legal research. My favorite aspects are communicating with clients and their families and going on prison visits. So far, I have been able to go to Huttonsville Correctional Center and Mount Olive Correctional Complex. I wanted to be a part of the project because I knew I had an interest in defense work, and this experience has solidified that goal. I have learned a variety of things, ranging from legal research, how to more effectively communicate with a variety of audiences and skills related to running a nonprofit organization.
Where have you studied abroad? What is your favorite memory from traveling abroad?
So far, I have studied abroad in France, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, The Netherlands, Japan, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. In January 2018, I will go to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands with the WVU Model United Nations team. One experience that stands out was visiting Hiroshima and listening to a survivor speak about her life. It was incredible to hear this first-hand account. Another great thing about studying abroad is the network of friends I have around the world that I still talk to today.
What is the most memorable experience you’ve had at WVU?
The most memorable experience at WVU has been the ability to enroll in two Inside-Out Prison Exchange classes. One class was held at the Morgantown Federal Corrections Institution and the topic was sociology. The other class was held at the Hazelton Federal Corrections Institution and the topic was prison literature. An Inside-Out class contains 15 imprisoned people and 15 WVU students. We work together to make projects and to understand our unique perspectives. I have been able to take this experience and actually be able to teach two classes at the Morgantown Federal Corrections Institution. These two experiences have solidified my goal of working with imprisoned people for the duration of my career.
What are your future goals?
My career goals are to work at the Innocence Project as a staff attorney and continue to work in prison education. My time at WVU has definitely prepared me because I have been able to practice both goals in real world situations.