ATLANTA — Nycolle Carvalho (B.S. ’22) began her career as a legal administrative assistant at the Cobb County District Attorney's Office, where an internship reinforced her passion for local government and introduced her to victim advocacy within the criminal justice system.
Carvalho’s attraction to criminal justice formed in high school. She wanted to work in local government and improve her community through rehabilitation programs that provide education and counseling as an alternative to traditional prosecution for less serious offenses.
Attending Georgia State was a dream of Carvalho’s. Its mission to support students from all backgrounds matches one of her life’s values — diversity.
During her last semester, Carvalho applied for an internship with the Cobb County District Attorney's Office, an opportunity that piqued her interest as a longtime Marietta resident and ignited her call to serve her local government.
“As soon as I was offered an interview, I was ready to work,” she said.
Carvalho’s responsibilities included assisting the director of the pretrial diversion program with case management and placing individuals with misdemeanors and less-serious felonies in the rehabilitation treatment program. For the student-intern assignment required by her major, she explored solutions to increasing the success rate of rehabilitation programs, suggesting strategies using program data to improve communications in case management that would result in more funding for the pretrial diversion program.
“In order for the program to help more people, the DA’s office would need to have more resources,” she said.
Another highlight was a case in which she assisted the assistant district attorney and an investigator as a victim advocate, working directly with a victim and her family. Carvalho used her first language, Portuguese, to communicate all the trial details with the family throughout the hearing process, an essential aid to the victim and her family.
“It was great to participate in that experience,” Carvalho said. “I realized then that I want to become a victim advocate in the special victim's unit.”
Carvalho’s participation in the case, coupled with a victimology course in which she learned about the cycle a victim experiences, further fueled her new passion for victim advocacy.
“It was an intense class with trigger warning disclaimers, and it was interesting to study about,” she said.
Carvalho received the offer of employment from the DA’s office during her internship. Now, as a legal administrative assistant, she works directly with the juvenile unit, assisting with case information to give offenders the correct rehabilitation treatment when appropriate.
“The rehabilitation program provides juvenile offenders with knowledge of law and justice,” she said. “It can also help to prevent system reentry in adulthood.”
Carvalho is interested in returning to Georgia State to further her education to become a victim advocate, but first wants to focus on building herself as an individual and professional. Recently, she accepted a position as a legal administrator to the Superior Court trial team at the DA’s office, a position she believes brings her a step closer to her career goal.
“Going to Georgia State University was a valuable experience to me,” Carvalho said. “I’m thankful my professors and internship led me to this career in local government.”
By Ashley Thompson, M.A. in Communication candidate