Can you share a brief bio regarding your education and professional background?
I graduated from Hood College in 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and minors in Criminology and Juvenile Delinquency. I obtained my Master’s in Social Work and a certificate in Violence Against Women and Children from Rutgers in January 2018. I also interned in Cluj, Romania through Rutgers Study Abroad program where I worked with various vulnerable populations, mostly at-risk Roma children. I am currently a direct care counselor and rehabilitation specialist with Excel Youth in Frederick, MD. I work with low-income children ages five to seventeen who are diagnosed with a mental illness. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I frequently moved as a child but consider Virginia Beach, VA my hometown. I currently live in the DC Metro area.
What drew you to Rutgers School of Social Work’s MSW program?
I was drawn to the Rutgers MSW program due to its positive reputation and flexibility. It was important to me that I enrolled in a school that allowed me to continue at my job while providing me with all the support of a successful school.
What were you most excited about in coming to the School and the program? Most nervous about?
I was most excited about all of the classes I would be taking. I often looked at the program guide and the class list to see what my options were. I looked forward to learning more about chronic illness and disabilities, diagnosing, and trauma, which were all topics covered in the various classes. I was most nervous about the workload! I saw the syllabi and immediately panicked- questioning my own abilities- but I learned how to manage my time in a way that made it all possible.
What are your areas of research or professional interest and what personally drew you to this particular area?
My main area of professional interest is violence against children. The Rutgers MSW program offers a Violence Against Women and Children Certificate that I applied for and obtained. I was personally drawn to this particular area due to the violence I experienced as a child and the desire to alleviate this problem for others. Once I began working in the field I realized that this problem was not “my own” but a societal problem. I recognized early on I needed to be specially trained and well-equipped to effectively work with this population and create meaningful change. I also have a strong interest in international work which I explored while at Rutgers through the Study Abroad program but am still learning in what capacity this will influence my career.
List 5 words that friends would use to describe you.
(I surveyed :))
Do you have a favorite quote or phrase that serves as your persona creed or motto?
I have a favorite word that I use as my life motto- meraki (μεράκι). Meraki is a Greek verb that does not directly translate into English. I found it years ago while reading an article and decided that this word was created for me. Meraki is best explained as giving all of yourself (soul, creativity, devotion, passion) into each task. This is how I choose to live my life. I will always be the person giving my entire heart into everything that I do.
How do you manage balancing your time with schoolwork, volunteer work, and job and/or home life?
People always ask me this and the best advice I have is to give yourself a daily reminder that you are resilient and remind yourself what is a priority to you. There is a quote by Laura Vanderkam that states something like instead of saying “I don’t have time” say “this isn’t a priority." That really changed my perspective on my time-management. I’m still a procrastinator but I challenged myself to think-what is important to me? How can I make this all work? And so I made it all work to the best of my ability. Sometimes, this meant less sleep or less “free time,” but that led to success and it was what I chose to do.
What are your plans after graduation?
I sit for my licensing exam in April so I hope to become a licensed social worker! I was promoted at work and am currently working in that position. Aside from this, I am taking it day by day and continuing to forge the right path for myself. I try not to give myself milestone timelines anymore.
Any advice for incoming students?
Take advantage of being a student. There may be a million roles you fulfill daily; child, parent, sibling, employee, employer, spouse- but you are only a student for a brief time. Take advantage of what Rutgers has to offer and utilize those resources. Immerse yourself in being a student during this season of life.