Traver wears many hats, looks to justice career

Kimberly Traver, senior criminal justice major, juggles family and 55 hours a week of work and school.

Julie Lybarger

Kimberly Traver, senior criminal justice major, juggles family and 55 hours a week of work and school.

Rita Forbes

Not many students are able to balance 19 credit hours, 20 hours of work, and 16 hours at an internship each week, but Kimberly Traver manages to pull it all off.

This senior criminal justice major has a passion for what she does. Her days begin at 3:30 a.m., when she goes to work as a dispatcher for the Missouri Southern Department of Public Safety. After a full day of work and class, Traver tucks her 2-year-old daughter into bed at 7 p.m.

“The weekends are for catching up on sleep,” she said.

Traver has always had an interest in criminal justice. As a teenager, she dreamed of becoming a police officer. When she started attending MSSU in 2005, however, she decided to take her dreams in a slightly different direction.

“Criminal justice still stood out to me,” she said. “I didn’t want to be a cop, but I wanted to do something along those lines.”

She decided to double major in criminal justice and juvenile justice, with no less than three minors: corrections, crime scene investigation, and criminal justice administration. After graduating this summer, she hopes to work as a probation and parole officer.

Traver volunteered with the Joplin Probation and Parole Office last semester. When the time came to complete either an independent study or an internship for her juvenile justice major, she wanted to experience a different aspect of the justice system. She decided to serve in an internship with the Newton County Drug Court this semester.

Working under the drug court administrator, Traver performs office duties and also has her own caseload of three juveniles, who are in the drug program. She visits each of these junior high school students twice a week, making sure they are keeping up with the program. They are required to complete community service, go to school every day, and keep their grades up. One of these students has successfully completed the year-long program and will graduate next month. But Traver’s internship can be discouraging.

“It’s sad to see seventh and eighth graders doing drugs and getting in trouble,” she said. “When I was in seventh grade, I didn’t even know what that stuff was.”

In her internship, Traver has seen firsthand the struggles of those seeking to overcome addiction. While the drug program offers help, it is a difficult process. She recalled one adult program participant who used drugs just two weeks before he was due to graduate.

“It just surprises me, how many people can’t kick it,” Traver said.

One class, Psychology of Personal Adjustment, is giving her insight into these difficulties, however.

“You can’t have the same friends that you had before,” Traver said. “You have to have a whole new life in order to succeed.”