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Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA)
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Elizabeth M Leonard

Major: Criminology
Hometown: Kennett Square, PA

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I found this experience through my advisor. I've had an internship since fall semester of 2017, but I did not think it would be fit for credit because it wasn't necessarily criminology-based. My advisor then introduced me to using the internship credit as an elective credit, and it worked out perfectly.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

I am an intern at Innovation Park for the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA). I have many duties within my position, such as approving and denying requests for repayment plans. I learned to look out for signs of fraud, money laundering, identity theft, and more. Every account is different and is a new task to take on. We have an abundance of training in compliance where we are tested on using the skills learned in training in the accounts. Supervisors then have evaluations and QAs where they send you anything that you have done incorrectly and explain why it is wrong and how to fix it. This makes learning much easier because you are fixing your own mistakes, and it is unlikely for you to make them again. As an intern at PHEAA you learn through trial and error.

How did this experience impact you academically?

Academically this experience has impacted me in many ways. I am very interested in compliance, anti-money laundering, and fraud. In criminology we are taught more about the punitive side of the field and how to punish individuals or what to do when something such as fraud happens. At my internship in PHEAA I am learning the other side of things. I have exposure to every step that is made when processing loans and what it may look like when something such as fraud exists. I know not only what to do when this happens, but also how to find it and stop it before it gets any worse. My training as an intern has equipped me with skills that I have brought into the classroom when speaking about certain crimes.

My training as an intern has equipped me with skills that I have brought into the classroom when speaking about certain crimes.

What are your career goals and plans? How did this experience impact them?

My career goals and plans after I graduate are to enter the profession of either fraud and anti-money laundering or investigations. At first, I wasn’t very sure how I would feel about working with accounts and money when I entered my profession. I have always leaned more toward a hands on occupation in the field, such as a detective. My internship has really allowed me to see every aspect of what can and does happen with these kinds of crimes and how easy it is to miss them. When someone is murdered, the majority of the time there is a crime scene and evidence. When there are traces of fraud and money laundering, it may not be as obvious and that challenge is what interests me the most.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

Yes I would recommend an internship with PHEAA to any Liberal Arts student because it may change their mind and introduce them to profession that they were not interested in before.

For more information on internships for Liberal Arts students, visit our website.
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