Can you share a brief bio regarding your education and professional background?
I studied anthropology and gender studies at New York University and spent many years working as a doula and midwifery assistant (among other things). It is my work as a doula that led me to working in the field of violence against women. I found that many of the women I was working with over the years had experienced some form of violence in their lives. It became quite clear that their experiences as survivors was impacting their pregnancies and especially their labors. I began volunteering at domestic violence agencies and rape crisis centers to better understand what they were experiencing. What finally pushed me to apply to the MSW program was my experience working as a dating violence prevention educator at Jersey Battered Women’s Service. Based on my interest in the field of violence against women I knew that the Rutgers School of Social Work program was the only choice for me. Each year in the program, I have been honored to receive a scholarship and this year it is my distinct honor to be one of three recipients of the Verizon Wireless HopeLine VAWC scholarship.
- Verizon HopeLine Violence Against Women & Children Scholarship 2017
- Dorothy Cartun Amdurer Memorial Scholarship 2017
- Lillian Ringel Memorial Scholarship 2015, 2016
- Latino/a Initiatives for Service, Training and Assessment Scholarship 2015
Born in Barbados and raised in West Long Branch, NJ
What drew you to Rutgers School of Social Work’s MSW program?
The Center on Violence Against Women and Children and the Certificate Program.
What were you most excited about in coming to the School and the program? Most nervous about?
I love being in school so I was really excited for the work but I am considered “non-traditional student” because I completed my undergraduate degree in 2002 so I was mainly nervous about my writing skills. I was worried that my writing was a tad bit rusty. One of the first things I did as a new student was set up an appointment at the writing center and met with the Research Librarian to brush up on my research skills as well.
What are your areas of research or professional interest and what personally drew you to this particular area?
Broadly speaking my areas of interest fall under the category of gender and policy. I am specifically interested in issues related to gender based violence, human rights, poverty and inequality, criminal justice reform, midwifery/maternal health, international social work and social welfare policy – to name just a few.
My dream job is to work as a gender based violence policy specialist for UN Women with a focus in Southeast Asia and/or Latin America and the Caribbean.
List 5 words that friends would use to describe you.
I asked, they said: funny, hardworking, compassionate, adventurous, and authentic.
Do you have a favorite quote or phrase that serves as your persona creed or motto?
“I want to live the rest of my life, however long or short, with as much sweetness as I can decently manage, loving all the people I love, and doing as much as I can of the work I still have to do. I am going to write fire until it comes out of my ears, my eyes, my nose holes-everywhere. Until it’s every breath I breathe. I’m going to go out like a meteor!” – Audre Lorde
How do you manage balancing your time with schoolwork, volunteer work, and job and/or home life?
I knew when I applied to the program that I would have to perfect my time management skills. Not only do I work, volunteer, and attend school, I am the mother of 2 and foster mother of 1 – so it was very important to be mindful of balancing my time right from the beginning. I set aside specific days dedicated to studying (usually while the kids are at school) and write myself a lot of reminders and “to-do” lists. I think the fact that I am a mother and have already spent many years juggling work life, family life, and on-call doula life gave me a significant advantage. I get teased sometimes for starting and/or completing work way too early but I have to use the available time I have – sometimes managing my time means looking ahead and planning way in advance. You just have to plan and then plan some more!
What are your plans after graduation?
Take a family vacation! (Maybe apply to the PhD program?)
Any advice for incoming students?
Connect early and often with your fellow students, get as involved as you can, ask for help, and utilize the resources available to you.