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MSW, African-American, Military

I am an African-American woman, born and raised in Georgia and now living in Honolulu, Hawaii. I have studied Sociology and Social Work at XXXX State University. As a child, I became aware of domestic and sexual abuse suffered by relatives and neighbors but lived in a culture where those who were aware of these situations were expected to ‘mind their own business’, and they usually seemed to do so.  Even as a child, I knew that this was wrong and that someone should be reporting and intervening in these situations. As an adult, I suffered physical abuse myself at the hands of a partner and then decided that I wanted to be one of those who stepped in to help those who were suffering. These are the reasons that I began Social Work studies and it is now my goal to complete the MSW program and start ‘making a real difference’. I regard social work much more as a vocation than merely a career choice.

 I am particularly interested in working in a military environment and it is my long term goal to be employed as a specialist in military related social work. I have served in the military and am a disabled veteran. I am also the spouse of a serving soldier. Because of this background and experience, I am personally aware of the pressures arising through separation from family, the need to regularly re-adjust to new localities and people, exposure to physical danger, the eventual need to successfully re-integrate into civilian life and the many other unique demands of military life.  I can relate directly to the problems suffered by soldiers and their families and will be able to draw upon my own, similar, experiences in assisting them. My own military career was a very positive experience. Among other things, it enhanced my self-respect and self-confidence and it taught me how to work in a team. I was always regarded as a good ‘team player’ with a readiness to share and to assist.  I regard these experiences as being highly relevant to success in this program

 At one stage in my life I suffered domestic abuse and subsequently volunteered to work in the Domestic Violence shelter that had provided me with help. Because of my own experiences, I was able to empathize fully with clients and provide living proof that positive outcomes were possible, no matter how bleak the future seemed at that moment.  I found great joy in helping people who were initially deeply distressed, disorientated and felt themselves somehow to be blameworthy. This was a pivotal experience in my life. I realized that I was the kind of person who could ‘reach out’ successfully and make a difference in the lives of others. If the clients learned from me, I also learned from them about the very wide variety of reactions to distress and misfortune that occur, the fact that everyone really is unique and requires ‘tailor made’ care and help. I also learned, to my initial surprise, that domestic violence happens to people of every cultural and social background and not merely the poor.

 I have also worked as a volunteer with an organization that represents the interests of abused and neglected children in court. I have been trained by a non-profit organization called CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) to act as an advocate for such children in the courts. The children concerned have suffered abuse or neglect and the courts seek to have them safely and permanently homed. I acted as a friend to the child and as a fact-finder reporting directly to the judge.  I was required to thoroughly research the child’s background, to speak for the child in court and to assist the court and child towards a swift and appropriate conclusion. This work has been another, and very significant, formative experience in my life and has provided me with great satisfaction, indeed joy.  A successful outcome is literally life-changing for an underprivileged and deserving child. The other successes in my life have been dwarfed by that obtained in doing this work that positively changes the lives of children. The children have acted as examples of resilience, patience and humor in the face of always difficult, and sometimes extremely distressing, situations that has been inspirational to me. I interacted with Social Workers during this work and have acquired a deeper understanding of their role.  It has also demonstrated to me how different providers and organizations interact efficiently to reach early and desirable conclusions. This experience fired a desire to work with families and specifically for the benefit of children and took me to the next step on my journey.

 During the last two semesters of my Social Work program, I completed two internships and was employed as a Case Manager for the Department of Family and Children Services in XXXX Georgia. The most important aspect of the work related to the assessment of risk to children arising in their home environments. I quickly became aware that the responsible adults were often deeply suspicious and highly defensive because of their fears that our interest was mainly, or only, in removing the child or children. I became practiced in finding the balance between our primary concern for the welfare of the child while reassuring the responsible adults about our role in seeking to identify and offer help in solving the problems and stresses in the family that caused the risk. Successful outcomes have provided me with enormous satisfaction.

 During my life, I have worked and socialized with people of a wide variety of cultural and social backgrounds. Military service took me to Germany for three years and I have also travelled to Canada and extensively within the US. ‘People are people’ and I find no difficulty in getting along with them no matter how great the apparent gap in our cultural background or life experiences.

 The definition of Social Work that I think is most accurate is that it is ‘all about people’, that it involves forming positive relationships with clients as an advisor, advocate, counselor or listener with the end of helping them to live their lives more successfully and by helping them to find practical and successful solutions to their problems. I also understand that reaching successful conclusions may involve interaction with families, friends and other relevant organizations and parties. I am also aware of the immense value of a smile when reaching out to others.

 I am genuinely interested in helping others. My social work experience has taught me to be realistic but optimistic and to persevere even in the face of clients who might be difficult to help. I am very aware of the fact that people in distress do not always put their thoughts into words and that a sensitive appreciation of the importance of non-verbal signals is an important feature of the work. I am emotionally mature and know how to communicate clearly and with personal authority, when it is necessary to do so. I am personally aware of the chaotic thoughts and feelings that result from acute distress and the absolute need for a determined and focused attitude on the part of the person assisting in such situations. I am the sort of person who can provide that determination and focus while exhibiting patience and understanding.  I know that situations calling for professional intervention are often highly complex and that the complexities may not be immediately apparent, that careful and sensitive investigation is required to define underlying problems and identify possible solutions.

 I believe that I have the personal qualities required of an excellent and highly effective Social Worker. I also believe that my voluntary activity, social work experience and military background will enable me to offer very significant and relevant skills and knowledge to the Master’s program. I look forward to sharing these benefits with my class. Most importantly, I will bring a genuine and passionate desire to help others through social work. I am convinced that the training and knowledge provided by the program will enable me to fulfill my potential to ‘make a difference’.

 Thank you for considering my application.

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