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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April 2015 Student Spotlight

Meet Ashton Talkovic

Research: Michigan State University Adolescent Project

Faculty: William Davidson


Ashton Talkovic is a junior pursuing a Bachelors of Science in Psychology and Criminal Justice. She has a 3.78 GPA and has aspiration of receiving a master’s degree in School Psychology. Because of her thirst for knowledge and passion to support others, she is always searching for learning opportunities outside of the classroom.  Ashton is one the most impressive students I have had to the pleasure to work with in the last ten years. She has participated and volunteered in several community outreach project for different youthful populations. She has worked with cognitively and emotionally impaired youth, and juvenile delinquents.  For each population, she consistently devotes passion and effort to help and inspire them to develop positive personal, social, communal and familial personas that helps them become their ideal self. She is one of the few students that I have worked with who operates from an altruistic perspective.
Ashton was a student in the MSU Adolescent Program (Psychology 371/372) where she created and implemented an 18 week long, strengths based intervention for a youth in the juvenile justice system.  She focused on the youth’s interests and addressed areas of unmet needs, and used her skills as an advocate to connect this particular youth to resources in the community.  After standing out to her instructor as an incredible advocate, Ashton was brought on as a Teaching Assistant where she is currently assisting with her third class section.  Kate Scanlon, an Masters of Social Work graduate student and lead Instructor for the MSU Adolescent Program stated “ Her knowledge on the juvenile justice system, her passion for youth, and her contagiously high spirited personality make Ashton an irreplaceable addition to the MSUAP staff”.
In addition to this, Ashton is one of the program directors for STRIVE, a partnership program between MSU and the Ingham County Circuit Court for juvenile sex offenders.  This is a population that society often overlooks or feels uncomfortable about, but Ashton aims to change the perception that people have of these kids, and the perception that these kids have of themselves.  Ashton educates undergraduate students in the program to become mentors for the youth with the ultimate goal of reducing recidivism.  Jenna VanDeputte and Alex Watson, the other co-directors, stated: “Ashton is extremely dedicated to educating this unique population of youth on pro-social skills while also making their time together a fun learning experience.  Her hard work and motivation shows in the progress of the youth.  Although this is a huge responsibility, Ashton has shown exemplary time management skills and demonstrates quick problem solving in times of crisis”.  Her role as director also has her maintaining close contact with the court, managing a staff of 16, and evaluating the success of the program.
Ashton also interned with the Family Division of the Ingham County Court assisting a Juvenile Court Officer with case management tasks for youth that are on standard probation. Her field supervisor Casey Kurth stated “Ashton always had a pleasant disposition when she attended her internship. She was ready to work as soon as she arrived.  She had a positive outlook on everything and really wanted to help the kids with problem solving and crisis resolution. She could handle multiple tasks given to her. She soaked up all the information given to her and was able to apply the skills she learned with all of her tasks. Ashton was involved in many different programs with the Court and exceeded at everything she did. Ashton was reliable and always on time. I do not believe she missed a single day during her internship”. 
Ashton also conducts research through the Ingham County Family Court’s Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory/Juvenile Risk Assessment Team to determine a youth’s risk of reoffending.  She recently completed a research project focused on identifying the criminogenic risk profile of gang-involved youth. The results are promising and she plans to present her work at a national conference in the fall.  Ashlee Barnes, a doctoral graduate student of Community Psychology and co-project manager of the Juvenile Risk Assessment Team stated “Ashton has never ceased to impress me with her commitment to the project. She is always professional, punctual, and offers valuable solutions to court administration when data management issues arise”.  As if all of that isn’t impressive enough, Ashton does not receive payment or class credit for any of these tasks.  She does them because she is a dedicated learner who wants to be able to make a genuine impact on people who need it most.  Ashton is more than deserving of this recognition because of her leadership skills, her positivity, and her enthusiasm for the profession.
Ashton’s journey has led her to discover her goals, philosophy/perspective, mission and values:
Her goals: To become a School Psychologist and develop pro-social programs that will best serve and secure youth’s opportunities towards their success.
Mission: to Inspire, and advocate as well as provide the necessary resources and opportunities to youth in our school systems in order to reach their full potential.
Psychological philosophy/perspective: In every aspect of her life she follows the strength-based philosophy and ecological perspective. She focuses on the strengths of others and not their limitations. She believes that by focusing on positive characteristics, she identifies, motivates and develops healthy sustainable relationships between people, communities, and society.
Values: Foremost the value she champions is competence as demonstrated through her double degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice and her increasing involvement in different opportunities. Her belief centers on a continuous learning model where every opportunity to learn increases her ability to impact another life.
Fun Fact: She used to be a Dancer for the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Team.