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ROCK ISLAND — A pair of Scott County Jail interns, from Augustana College, admit they were a little worried about their safety on Day 1, but in the end they never felt threatened.

Ariana Solis and Daniel Williams, both 22, "survived their jail time" without any problems and found the experience fulfilling.

Solis worked with a group of male inmates at the jail, while Williams helped females prisoners.

Augustana College has offered clinical experience classes for advanced students in the community for many years and according to Associate Professor Ian Harrington, the psychology and neuroscience department chairman, they have never had any complaints.

"We've heard no negative stories," Harrington said. "No students have regretted the experience and have clearly made an impact."

Other students typically choose to work with children with autism or interning with a school system and shadowing counselors, he said.

Williams, a Sherrard High School graduate who is scheduled to graduate from Augustana in May, is interested in being a social worker in rural schools. He also has a huge passion for the arts and frequently acts in Quad City Music Guild productions. He combined his two interests during his internship at the jail.

"I agreed to go out there, and work on my observation skills," Williams said.

He had female inmates perform a number of William Shakespeare's soliloquies as part of an anger-management observation exercise.

Williams also borrowed from rock songs, such as "Don't Stop Believing," and about 20 other tunes to "observe and guess what emotions they were feeling," and gauge them on anger-management issues.

Between 15 and 20 inmates attended each session.

It was a first-time different experience for Williams.

"I never anticipated working in a jail experience," and remembered later joking with classmates about how he "just got back from jail."

Hearing skidding doors open for the first time, "made it real," Williams said. "It was a little intimidating at first," he said. "But it was all in my head."

By the time he got done with the internship he was able to joke "about the absurdity of teaching Shakespeare to a group of women in jail," he said. "But I never felt scared."

Women in his group kept asking Williams about what shows he was performing in and joked they wanted to try to attend them as a group.

Williams called the experience a "good confirmation of being on the right path of my career path."

Solis, of Elmhurst, Ill., who scheduled to graduate from Augustana College in May, with a degree in psychology, was placed in "jail" for her clinical experience and conducted anger-management experiments.

"On my first day, I didn't know what to expect being a woman in that setting," she said. "It made me conscious of my space, but I never felt threatened, disrespected or anything. 

"The surprising thing was how I went in thinking there would be some kind of danger," Solis said. "But I can't say I was ever fearful."

Her parents, Jorge and Dolores Madera, also indicated they had no worries.

Solis was surprised to learn how inmates love crafts. She directed them on how to build a three-dimensional car as part of an exercise. Using the metaphor of driving down a really steep hill and trying to quickly find, adapt avoid an obstacle at the bottom was an example of making anger-management decisions.

She also recalled attending mental health court, in both Davenport and Rock Island, at least once a week as part of her requirements.

Solis called the experience "absolutely worthwhile."

Harrington said applicants for the fall term are now being accepted, and may find  longer term-placements of 10 to 14 weeks, under  a new system of semester, instead of trimester, plans to be introduced to students in the fall.

The two-credit class is based on an acceptance decision made when students apply. Applications are accepted each term by students indicating  specific interests and credentials.

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Reporter

Leon is a reporter for the Dispatch-Argus-QCOnline.com.

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