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University of Dayton Intern

Published on June 10, 2020

My name is Mallory Zalla and I recently graduated from the University of Dayton with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology. I also minored in social work which led me to become involved with the amazing organization that is Building Bridges, first as an intern and then as a Work Therapy Specialist. As an intern, I was given my first glimpse into how powerful and impactful this program truly is in the lives of the youth involved. I learned the ins and outs of the Juvenile Court system by shadowing a passionate team of dedicated professionals who have committed their lives to this program and to helping the youth with the highest need in our community.

Because of the overwhelmingly positive experience that I had as an intern, I knew I had to become more involved and apply for the Work Therapy Specialist position. Being a Work Therapy Specialist allowed me the opportunity to develop strong relationships with the youth that I will never forget. I took them to therapeutic work groups in the community, such as volunteering at the Humane Society and an educational mentoring program with men who were formerly incarcerated. The reason why I know Building Bridges is truly making a difference in the lives of the youth is because they have told me, and I have seen it. I have seen them become motivated to do better for themselves and their future. I have seen them develop a strong work ethic and acquire jobs in the community. I have seen recidivism rates decrease. Most importantly, I have seen the youth accept that they are not just someone with a troubled past but instead someone with a hopeful future.

I am driven to pursue my master’s degree and a career in the field of social work because of my experience with Building Bridges. I am more passionate and hopeful than ever because I now know that there are programs like Building Bridges and people out there that make REAL change in the community. Not only does Building Bridges give a voice to the voiceless, but it also inspired me to find my voice and never settle for less than what I have seen working at this program. All it really takes is a team willing to look at kids as more than a product of their environment and Building Bridges does just that.


Mallory Zalla

University of Dayton

Class of 2020

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