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Summer in D.C. prepares Smith for future

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The term “summer break” has different meanings for different college students. For some it is a three month vacation without classes and for others it is a chance to work ahead on their studies. For Lipscomb women’s basketball player O’Neisha Smith, it is internship season.

The rising senior is working her second consecutive summer as an intern, this year at the Public Defender’s Service (PDS) in Washington D.C. having spent last summer at the U.S. Federal Probations in Nashville.

The PDS is a federally funded, independent legal organization that was created by a federal statute. The PDS generally handles the serious, complex, resource-intensive and time-consuming criminal and juvenile delinquency cases.

Working for PDS, Smith is an investigator for two attorneys at the office. She works on General Felony 1 cases and Accelerated Felony cases, or cases that are over in 100 days.

“My job is to basically go out into the field to find, interview and take written statements from witnesses,” Smith said. “I also attend court hearings for our clients, canvass areas where the incident took place, write up memos for attorneys and make exhibits for the attorney to present in court.”

The social work major has been able to piece together the pair of internships over the last two summers which gives her a view of the beginning and end of the justice process.

“Working at PDS, I am able to experience the beginning process of when a client is placed under arrest and also get to see and do the necessary steps to begin the case,” Smith said. “Working at the U.S. Federal Probations I was able to see the end result after the clients have gone through their trial and see how probation is set up.”

Although it is labeled as an internship, Smith says she doesn’t feel like an intern in the office.

“It almost feels as if I am working here for real,” Smith said. “The attorneys and clients are depending on us to gather the information needed to contribute to their cases.”

With her senior year on the horizon, Smith is able to take what she is learning in D.C. and apply both the upcoming basketball season and her upcoming graduation.

“A life lesson that can intertwine between my job and basketball can be the importance of maintaining balance along with being prepared both mentally and physically,” Smith said. “When you are conscious and aware in life, it sets the stage for achievement.

“Lastly I would say learning to persevere while never giving up.”