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After Traveling Abroad, Social Work Draws Student Back to New Jersey
September 9, 2019

If you had asked Rivka Herson in high school what her “thing” was, she would tell you she was a good listener. “I’ve always been good at handling the complexity of listening. It is a skill,” she said. 

The daughter of nonprofit professionals, Herson was raised in the world of community service. Now a senior in Rutgers School of Social Work’s BASW program, she says her desire to help others was passed on from her parents who created and run their own nonprofit. It also manifested in response to her childhood friends who struggled with mental illness.

After graduating from high school, Herson volunteered abroad in Australia where she wrote the curriculum for group leaders to use for weekly meetings with high school girls. “The goal was to provide the girls with a place to socialize, learn life skills, and lessons as well as someone they could turn to and look up to,” Herson said.

When she returned to the United States, Herson worked with her parents at their nonprofit while taking classes at a local community college. She found herself immensely interested in social work, so her professors suggested she complete her studies at Rutgers School of Social Work.

When she got to Rutgers, she was immediately impressed with the BASW program. “I really like the size of the program and the interactive nature of my classes,” she said. “I’ve been able to find wonderful peers and professors who are open to helping me grow.”

After graduating, Herson hopes to work with children and young adults seeking help for their mental health issues. She is currently studying substance abuse disorders and how they impact mental health. Herson credits Rutgers for helping her find her niche in the academic world. “Every professor I encounter at Rutgers wants to help their student network and better understand the profession,” she said. “That’s something special.”

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