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Youth Development Training Program

About the Waco Youth Development Project

The Waco Youth Development Project is a multidisciplinary, multi-institutional research team in Waco, Texas, that aims to advance knowledge about how to empower young people during their transition to adulthood. The team includes graduate students, undergraduates, and faculty on the McLennan Community College campus, as well as professionals working in the community.

Our work focuses on the transition to adulthood because this is often when positive and negative life trajectories begin to separate from one another, with the young person’s emerging sense of identity—an emerging sense of possibility, direction, and embeddedness in a community—playing a crucial role in determining what direction his or her life course takes. Our aim is to create tools for empowering youth in this developmental moment.

Currently, we are working on a cultural adaptation of the Changing Lives Program. In partnership with local schools and college transition programs, undergraduate psychology students facilitate small mentoring groups for over 100 traditionally underserved youth who will be first in their families to go to college. In working with these youth, our approach is supportive and collaborative, not problem-focused or didactic. Like other youth development programs, we aim to promote positive and healthy development.

The Youth Development Training Program is an integral part of our work. Youth Development Interns in this program participate in developing, refining, and implementing our youth development program. This rest of this page provides an overview of the Training Program.

Who is the Youth Development Training Program for?

Participation in the Youth Development Training program is open to undergraduate students, graduate students, and community members who are willing to commit to two semesters (9 months) of work for the Youth Development Project. There are opportunities for training at several levels of involvement, and new opportunities will arise as our projects evolve.

At the undergraduate level, students may obtain pre-clinical experience by becoming a mentor and research experience by assisting with project maintenance, data collection, and data management. Typically, undergraduate students receive course credit by taking PSYC 4388, Research Experience: Developmental Interventions for Youth. We primarily recruit students from the Psychological Sciences Program at Tarleton State University, but other students are welcome to participate as well.

At the graduate level, training opportunities have yet to be fully developed. However, because we have a Licensed Professional Counselor on staff, there is the possibility that masters students in the Clinical Mental Health Program at Tarleton State University can use the Changing Lives Program as a secondary practicum site. In addition, masters students in Tarleton's Applied Psychology Program and doctoral students in Tarleton's Educational Leadership Program are welcome to explore the possibility of obtaining training in community-based outreach research in the process of fulfilling their academic requirements (e.g., Masters Thesis, Doctoral Dissertation).

Types of Activities

The types of activities that Youth Development Interns participate in include:

  • pre-clinical activities (e.g., facilitating mentoring groups, supervision and consultation, record-keeping)
  • research and administrative activities (e.g., data collection, data management and analysis, team coordination).

Internship and Research Sites

Youth Development Interns are placed at sites in the Waco area. All supervised intern activities (e.g., mentoring) are conducted at the placement sites. Research activities are conducted at the placement sites and at the McLennan Community College campus. Interns are responsible for arranging transportation to the placement sites and the college.

Currently, we have three placement sites:

Home Base

The "home base" for the Youth Development Project is on the McLennan Community College campus in the Math, Wellness, and Fitness Building, room 228.

How do I apply for the Youth Development Training Program?

  • For Undergraduate Credit Hours
    • Undergraduate students can sign up for Research Experience: Developmental Interventions for Youth (PYSC 4388). This 3-credit hour course is an advanced research experience in developmental intervention outreach research. This course fulfills a psychology or general elective requirement. For more details, contact Dr. Eichas at eichas@tarleton.edu

  • For Graduate Credit Hours