By Shreya Gupta
For Intensive Weekend MSW Student, Vimmi Surti, social work is a second degree and career path. Prior to her studies at Rutgers School of Social Work, Surti earned her Bachelor's degree in law from Gujarat University in India.
During her law studies, Surti was awarded for her participation in moot court and mock trial competitions. She also volunteered at a local think-tank where she educated school-aged children about their constitutional rights and duties. Surti's path to legal practice and civic duty seemed clear.
In December 2013, Surti participated in Jagriti Yatra, which translates to "journey of awakening". Jagriti Yatra is an initiative hosted by a non-governmental organization in India that promotes entrepreneurship and looks to inspire new leaders, change-makers, and innovators.
Each year, roughly 450 participants embark on a 15-day train journey across India to experience life across the country. Surti credits this experience for exposing her to social work.
"Jagriti Yatra opened my eyes to social work and social justice," says Surti. "The entrepreneurial journey made me aware about the importance of grassroots organization.
I felt a need to be a voice for the voiceless, help meet needs of underrepresented and serve the poorest of the poor class of society."
Now immersed in the MSW program, Surti leverages her previous educational and life experience as a legal advocate through her field placement at Manavi- an organization for South Asian Women. She coordinates legal clinics around immigration and family law, holds peer and women’s support sessions, and facilitates additional outreach.
Looking ahead, Surti hopes to continue her social work path and serve domestic and sexual violence survivors through trauma-informed therapy, while also spreading understanding and articulating the importance of social work within her community.
“I hope to spread more awareness about the importance of social work within the South Asian community,” Surti says. “From health care, legal services to education assistance, social work is one of the most fulfilling jobs someone can have."