"An Extension of All My Classes and Vice Versa," Brooke Fulton on her internship with the Seattle City Attorney's Office

Submitted by Whitney Miller on
Brooke Fulton at Marrowstone Island

Seattle City Attorney’s Office Domestic Violence Unit has a history of working with graduate student interns preparing for a career in social work. The interns advocate for victims of domestic violence as they navigate the court system. Brooke Fulton, a junior majoring in GWSS, is the first undergraduate to intern with the unit, and she approached her internship not with the primary intention of seeking a potential job opportunity, but rather as an avenue for personal growth. As Brooke explains, “My objective is to gain a better understanding of the world and to delve into topics that I had previously been unaware of so that I can be a more informed and effective member of society.” 

The GWSS fieldwork requirement allows students not only to explore potential career paths, but to see how issues covered in their courses play out beyond the classroom. “My fieldwork felt like just an extension of all my classes and vice versa,” Brooke explained. “Everything we discussed in a class, all the materials we covered, I would see them represented immediately the next time I opened up the backlog and read case reports. Just seeing the intersectionality of people’s experiences, it really factors in. Everything that we’re covering – from social location, just issues of race and gender and class, nationalism  – all of those things play into the likelihood of someone experiencing abuse or becoming an abuser.” 

In addition to reviewing case files, Brooke’s internship took her to the courtroom, where she could act as a support for her clients, many of whom would otherwise be “in court on their own., literally on their own.” Working with in the courts was an eye-opening experience for Brooke: “I had the misimpression, which is a very naïve misimpression, that everyone – because they’re steeped in these issues every single day – that they would have a comprehensive view of both sides of the equation. That was not the case at all.” 

Brooke had returned to school with the initial intention to study nursing and entered the GWSS major with an interest in working with marginalized populations: “In a Multicultural Experience class, I was introduced to the concept that Latecia Nieto calls a Temporary Loss of Power. This concept was revelatory to me, because it was something I had experienced before but did not have the language to describe. I learned that the Temporary Loss of Power is the closest I'll likely ever come, due to my social location, to experiencing genuine oppression, and that the temporary (though, multi-year) experience I had endured is the way some people experience the world throughout their entire lives.  This new understanding compelled me to pursue a path that would allow me to assist people who were facing marginalization and systemic oppression.” 

Her experience interning with the Domestic Violence Unit confirmed her feeling that this is the path she wants to pursue and she is returning to work with the unit this summer. “Having this experience has really solidified that for me,” Brooke shared. “I’ve done a lot of interviewing other advocates since [the fieldwork seminar ended] and it seems like the most important part of having a sustained career in advocacy is finding an organization that has a tremendous support system for its advocates and recognizing that there is secondary trauma and all of these things that need to be addressed so we can have a sustainable position and career. And yeah, I’m absolutely looking forward to serving in that capacity.”