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Student’s personal story influences choice of practicum experience

Posted March 23, 2017
By Emily Swan
Top photo: Leslie Knight is spearheading a campaign, "The Blameless Ones" to raise money for scholarships for children whose parents were incarcerated.


In her final semester at USC, Master of Mass Communication student Leslie Knight is completing her practicum with an organization she has volunteered with before.

As the sole social media manager for nonprofit organization Proverbs 22:6 , Knight faces many challenges, but even more triumphs, as she works to change the lives of children with incarcerated parents.

Proverbs 22:6 was founded five years ago in Charlotte. Now active in four states, the organization focuses heavily on education to help children of incarcerated parents break the cycle of incarceration and set themselves up for a brighter future.

“I don’t think people realize how many children there are who are affected by this,” Knight said. “Children are left behind.”

Proverbs 22:6 also tries to help children mend the broken relationship they have with an incarcerated parent. Employees and volunteers bring the children to the prisons and provide a safe space for families to reconnect.

“It’s not a very comfortable environment. It’s very scary,” Knight said. But in spite of the discomfort, these visits have a profound impact. “They connect on a personal level, eat lunch together, play games,” Knight said.

Proverbs 22:6 staff also work directly with the children’s parents — helping them to cope with their situation and encouraging them to make peace with their children by asking for forgiveness.

The work Knight does as part of her practicum with Proberbs 22:6 is not her first involvement with this issue.  As a contestant in the Miss South Carolina pagent, she used her platform to advocate for children with incarcerated parents. Children like her.

“My biological father was incarcerated for most of my life,” Knight said. “For me, a big reason why I wanted to compete in Miss South Carolina is to be a voice for those children. For such a long time, I was that child that felt like I was alone.”

Athough she wears many hats for Proverbs 22:6 — managing social media, serving as spokesperson, and assisting on the leadership teamshe spends a lot of her time interacting with the children involved in the organization.

“The kids really respond to me. When they look at me and see what I’ve been able to accomplish, they’re instantly inspired,” she said.

Knight says she has been incredibly fortunate to have a supportive family encouraging her to pursue her dreams, and by sharing her story, she shows the children she works with that they can achieve their dreams too.

“They put me out there a lot when it comes to education and changing the stereotype surrounding children with incarcerated parents,” Knight said. “I definitely don’t fit the statistic or mold of most children with incarcerated parents.”

While she makes a tremendous impact on the children as an integral part of Proverbs 22:6, she also has an opportunity to revisit her own history in a new light.

“On a personal level, I was able to get in tune with a lot of things I had not faced yet — that I thought I had already dealt with. I’ve had some healing as well, just being a part of this program,” Knight said.

Since beginning her journey with Proverbs 22:6, she has come to realize just how important an organization like this would have benefited her growing up.

“We didn’t have an organization that was anything like this,” Knight said. “This practicum is so much more personal.”

Because of that, she goes the extra mile to make a real difference through her work. She believes in the kids she works with.

“They can be more than that. They can do more than that.”

Read more about Knight and the "The Blamesless Ones" campaign here »


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Emily Swan

Emily Swan is a graduate student from Columbia, South Carolina, pursuing her master’s degree in mass communication. Her interests include entertainment journalism, nonprofit public relations and health communication.