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Mahogany Summers '20 Shares How She's Coping with COVID-19
April 30, 2020

We're checking in with our students, alumni, faculty, staff, and friends on the front lines of social work during this historic time. We hope their stories will provide many lessons for future generations of social workers. If you would like to share your story, please contact our communications team at lzazenski@ssw.rutgers.edu.

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Mahogany Summers is a senior in our BA in social work program and a Price Family Fellow who will enter into our Advanced Standing MSW Program this May. She recently spoke to us about how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting her studies and personal life. 

What brought you to the field of social work?
What brought me to social work was my life experiences. I had some tough times, but what got me through them were social workers and professionals who were able to assist me in making my life journey a little better. It was social workers who tried to determine what I needed and where I needed to be when my home environment was toxic. My aunt, who allowed me to live with her my senior year, is a social worker and throughout college a social worker has been my academic and life coach. If it were not for them, I wouldn’t have developed the necessary skills it takes to keeping moving forward, and I’d like to help others do the same.

How is COVID-19 impacting you?
COVID-19 has prevented me from working, which is the most important thing to me at this time. I planned to use the money to get prepared to move into an apartment for graduate school, which begins very soon, and now I’m depending on other resources to potentially help me get settled. I’m grateful for that, but if I were not a Price Family Fellow, I’d be in a really sticky position. I have also been really lonely, being that I’m still on campus and all of my friends are gone. I don’t have close bonds with family, so I depend greatly on my social life and school activities to keep me in a happier state, and without that I’ve only occupied my time worrying about my future and when the pandemic will end.

What do you think the world should know about social work – especially during this global pandemic?
I think the world should know that without social work underprivileged families, students, and communities would be without food, shelter, and funds to survive during this time. It is social workers whose job it is to help people with disadvantages, and if it were not for them many people would be left without assistance during this time. The phone call check ins and organization of food pick up times and planning for what comes after this is done by social workers. I believe they make the world go around.

What advice would you give to your fellow social work students?
Be grateful that we are still able to learn online and to try to make the best of it. I think my fellow students and I should use this pandemic to think about how everyone has been affected and determine what we each plan to do with careers based on the considerations of the most vulnerable populations affected by COVID-19.

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