Social science student works as intern for Department of Homeland Security
Beginning life at a large university is a challenging adjustment for many freshmen, but criminal justice senior Madge MacLean sought to treat that challenge as an opportunity to improve herself.
Within two weeks of coming to MSU as a freshman, MacLean decided to dive into a research project that explored the newsworthiness of more than 100 mass shootings during a four-year span. Despite the fact that she was still figuring out how to live with a roommate and locate where her classes were on campus, the research project was an opportunity she knew she had to take.
“I did have some reservations at first,” MacLean said of the project. “You know, it’s not an easy topic. We’re looking at mass shootings. That’s not something that’s a walk in the park.”
Although the project required a lot of work, it ended up being an enlightening experience for her.
“We get these snapshots of what we think this phenomenon is, and what we think will solve it, when really there’s a lot under the surface,” she said. “There’s a lot that most people don’t understand about this kind of thing.”
As a part of the first class of the Social Science Scholars Program, MacLean worked with a the coordinator of undergraduate studies for the School of Criminal Justice, April Zeoli.
“Madge is extremely motivated,” Zeoli said. “She in interested in increasing her skills, she’s interested in learning more and she’s good at asking questions: questions that lead her to good answers.”
Because of her impressive work, university faculty members, including director of the Social Science Scholars Program John Waller, began to notice her capabilities.
“There are a number of notable things about Madge,” Waller said. “One of the main ones is that she had embarked on a research project within about two weeks of getting here, which is about the best research project I’ve seen done by an undergraduate.”
Not only was the project one of a kind, MacLean described the experience as “worth its weight in gold.”
Because of her ability to set the bar high, she was recommended to apply for an unique internship. The Department of Homeland Security approached MSU seeking intern applications for work in its Detroit-based office.
“This was the first time in the history of the United States that a government agency has not put out an internship application to the entire nation, and instead came directly to a university and said, ‘We want an intern from this university,’” MacLean said. “They know our program is so solid, they know that we produce good workers, they know that we produce educated people. They came to us directly and said, ‘We want the best that you have.’"
The best that MSU had was MacLean.
“It’s a real accolade for the college and also for the School of Criminal Justice that there is such confidence in the quality of students that they’re educating and coming out of the program,” Waller said.
After two rounds of interviews, MacLean and one other MSU student were chosen to move to Detroit to work as Intelligence Analyst interns with the agency.
A large factor of MacLean’s job is to take to social media to collect information through Facebook and Twitter. Once there, she is able to track down general information about people they’re investigating.
MacLean said she can see herself continuing her internship into a career. She has always wanted to make an impact, and said she believes this could be the start of her goal.
“I knew that a big part of my driving force and passion in life was being able to know that I was helping people and making a difference,” MacLean said.