By: Kimberly Ingold
About the author: Kimberly Ingold is a third year Honors College student double-majoring in Psychological Science and Criminal Justice and minoring in Women’s and Gender Studies.
About the organization: H.O.P.E. Mentoring is an organization that pairs incarcerated juveniles with college mentors who support the student in an effort to reduce recidivism rates by helping them obtain and maintain employment. H.O.P.E. stands for Helping Offenders Prosper through Employment. Though the organization is based out of Indiana University, H.O.P.E. accepts college mentors from many universities in Indiana, including Ball State.
When I began with H.O.P.E. last year, I was excited to have the opportunity to volunteer with the incarcerated youth population, as my goal after undergraduate school is to earn a PhD in clinical psychology before beginning a career as a correctional psychologist. For months I created and attended sessions at the Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility, which is located 40 minutes south-west of Muncie, for my mentor once a week.
In May, I began my position as the Statewide Juvenile Mentoring Co-Director at H.O.P.E. while also continuing my volunteer work as a mentor. As Co-Director, I oversee all the relationships between the college mentors and their incarcerated mentees, provide feedback to all the mentors, and communicate with staff at all three juvenile correctional facilities in Indiana.
Coming to Ball State’s campus as a freshman in 2018 was nerve-racking, and I was particularly nervous about my Honors classes, which are “discussion based.” As an introvert, I would much rather sit and listen to other people discuss concepts and ideas, rather than actively join in the conversation myself, despite often holding strong opinions on topics involved in the conversation.
However, now that I am in my third year at Ball State and am taking my sixth and seventh Honors classes this fall semester, my confidence in public speaking has grown drastically. I am now more self-assured, actively join in conversations in class, and openly discuss my ideas, experiences, and thoughts about the texts.
Additionally, in the spring of 2019, I took an HONR 199 course with Dr. Kaufman titled “Crime, Poverty, and Violence in Twentieth-Century America.” In this class, we discussed many issues relating to criminal justice, socioeconomic status, and criminology. Since Criminal Justice is one of my majors, this class piqued my interest and was one of the favorite Honors classes I’ve taken. While the class is focused on 20th century America, it has connections to H.O.P.E. and the incarcerated adolescents who I work with, and was partially what inspired me to actively get involved with helping the incarcerated population.
The ability to communicate my ideas has been extremely beneficial to my time volunteering and working at H.O.P.E. As a mentor, it is crucial to be able to construct a two-way conversation with your mentee, especially at the beginning of your mentorship, as neither of you know each other.
As Co-Director, my job includes leading conversations among the other Leadership Team members, our mentors, and the Indiana Department of Corrections staff. Due to COVID-19, my interactions with people have been exclusively through Zoom calls, which requires a new set of challenges that are similar to those I’m experiencing in one of my Honors classes this semester. Despite this, I have remained an effective communicator, partially due to my experience in my Honors classes over the past two years.
Similar to myself, I was able to watch my mentee grow, develop, and change for the better throughout my mentorship. When he was released from the juvenile facility, I was extremely proud of all the work we had done together. While working with an incarcerated youth can have challenging moments, it is an overall amazing experience that I encourage everyone to participate in – just like Honors classes.
You can visit H.O.P.E.’s website at www.hopementoring.com to learn more about the organization and to apply to be a mentor.