By: Krista Didzbalis '19
Jino Gatpandan '19 was drawn to social work to set himself apart from many of his friends and family with careers in the medical field and to satisfy his desire to be of service to others.
"It was a no-brainer for me to for me to pursue something that allowed me to follow the path of my friends and family members in the helping and healthcare professions, but in my own way. Social work allowed me to do that," says Gatpandan. "I wanted to be many things growing up, actually, but I learned rather quickly what wasn't for me. I've always been the type of person who loved helping people, but me and science aren't necessarily the greatest fit."
Gatpandan is part of the Aging and Health MSW certificate program, which allows students to focus their advanced year studies around the aging population and works to educate students on how to better understand specific needs of this population.
"I'm learning how the welfare of seniors is addressed and how their needs increase as they age, Gatpandan explains. Getting sick or experiencing a health trauma can impact anyone and their loved ones in profound ways. What I am interested in is how the social worker can intervene and help people and their families navigate through this large healthcare system, given that their priority should just be getting better. The last thing they need is to get lost in the system during what could be their most vulnerable, painful, and oftentimes isolating moments of their lives."
In addition to his studies, Gatpandan serves as co-chair of the 2018-19 Graduate Student Association (SSWGSA) where he works with other council members to to represent the student body and serve as a conduit for dialogue between students, faculty, and administration.
"We have an amazing council. I'd like to shout them out! We are all very busy, but dedicated to making the time and effort to represent the student body the best that we can. Social work is a very demanding profession and it is important that we create programs from a personal and professional standpoint like self care, networking, and time management."
Gatpandan believes that practical experience in the field of social work is an extremely important piece of the MSW program. His current placement is in Kindred hospital in Rahway, NJ where he is gaining hands on experience with supportive counseling and case management. After graduation, he hopes to work as a hospital social worker, but is open to what the future holds. He knows just how versatile an MSW can be and how intensively Rutgers prepares its students for careers in many different areas.
"My career trajectory has changed because of my positive experiences here at Rutgers, specifically during my first year interning at the H.E.A.L. collaborative with Rutgers Law School and Rutgers NJMS. When I began my social work journey, I thought that I wanted to end up in a zen-like office doing psychotherapy, but I landed this all around incredible and eye-opening internship that allowed me to see what direct practice was like and I made quite the about-face. So, my advice to anyone pursuing social work is to be open to the possibility of things that you might have never thought about doing."