Wow. I just found my Statement of Purpose that I had to write when I applied for the Masters of Social Work program at Florida Atlantic University in 2008. WOW! It takes me back. My writing wasn’t great but damn if you don’t get better at writing in college!
If you are interested in reading it, it will give you a little more insight into my passion for helping others.
They accepted me, BTW. 😉
Growing up a single child in a single-parent home was difficult. This environment did not allow me to thoroughly enjoy my youth due to responsibilities put on me at an early age. However, I have emerged a compassionate, responsible and thankful woman because of those experiences. I would not feel complete if I could not volunteer and assist those in need and advocate for those with no voice. I am a social justice advocate, through and through. I owe my passionate personality to my mother, and the experiences I endured as a child.
I started my college career off on a bumpy road, transferring to a few different majors throughout community college. In 2004, I saw the movie Hotel Rwanda. I have never felt such a huge tug at my heart – I left the movie theater in tears. Due to this experience, I took great interest in the developing world, with a particular interest in anti-genocide activism in Africa. I decided to apply to the Peace Corps but was deferred due to reoccurring headaches that needed to be resolved. I saw that as a sign, decided to finish my B.A. and applied to the University of South Florida.
While there is no degree at USF that focuses on human rights, I was able to connect many of my interests to the political science degree, International Studies. My major has taught me a great deal about world issues and politics but it has become very clear to me that I do not want to concentrate on issues at the institutional level. Although I do have experience with macro-level advocacy, my heart lies with helping others at the micro level. Having been involved in several areas of advocacy and volunteerism there are three main areas of interest I would like to pursue. I would like to concentrate on refugee populations, the homeless and empowering adolescent girls.
The social issue of greatest concern to me is the guidance that many young girls fail to receive in the household. EDITED OUT – She has not been a good role model for these girls, mostly because she did not receive good guidance from her mother. This cycle is constant in our society and I would like to help break the chain. EDITED OUT I believe programs like the Ophelia Project advocate for youth, building self-esteem and self-worth in young girls. We, as a society, also play a role in the development of young girls into healthy, happy and productive adults.
As a member of society, I had the opportunity to work with a young girl through the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program (2005 – 2006). I met Sarah by tutoring her at The Boys and Girls and Club (2005). Sarah was behind in her reading ability so I began meeting with her weekly to coach her. We quickly formed a close bond and it was apparent that she needed a confidant. Working one-on-one with children and watching them learn and mature is very rewarding. I prefer the individual interaction because it is more personal. A personal atmosphere allows you to build trust with one another, creating a more effective environment for the individual to grow.
Another personal relationship that has inspired me is with a local refugee. Mogtaba is from Darfur, Sudan, a country in Africa that is experiencing the first genocide of the 21st century. Mogtaba opened my eyes to the current refugee infrastructure and the immediate issues they face as they try and assimilate into America. Due to governmental budget restraints, refugees receive very little assistance. While they are entering a seemingly better life, they are confronted with an entirely new set of daily struggles. Instead of the threat to their life, they are faced with a threat to their dignity. I am very interested in working in this area, helping to develop new programs that address the more immediate issues that refugees face, like learning to speak English, keeping a checkbook, and pursuing an education. It is very important that we provide the tools and resources to these people so they can become contributing members of society.
Mogtaba and I have partnered on the development of the STAND chapter at USF. STAND is a national student-led anti-genocide coalition. In Fall 2006, I was given the opportunity to work with a group of my peers at USF to start a chapter. I became President in Spring 2007 and have had the opportunity to lead and serve with many inspiring individuals and community organizations. Being the co-founder of the USF STAND chapter has done great things for my personal and professional development. Through the development of this organization, I have had to step outside my comfort zone on a number of occasions, including facing my fear of public speaking. I have gained valuable leadership experience through conducting meetings, planning events and empowering my younger members.
Through my work with STAND, I have fostered a close relationship with the Florida Center for Survivors of Torture (FCST). STAND and FCST have worked on important events in order to educate the community on the Darfur genocide and how they can assist the refugee population in Tampa. One of our most successful events took place in April 2007. We co-hosted the screening of The Lost Boys of Sudan, a documentary focusing on the young Sudanese men who have struggled with assimilation into America. An actual lost boy, Abraham Alowich, relayed his personal story and talked about his new education initiative to help his people back home. The most exciting aspect of the event was our true special guests – a group of lost boys that live in the Tampa Bay area. This event was very inspiring and our goals were met: the event opened the community’s eyes to the refugee population in their backyard, and many reached out to FCST about volunteering and helping these young men assimilate into their community
Through a weeklong Alternative Spring Break trip this year, I was immersed with a homeless population in Washington, DC. I volunteered and lived at Community for Creative Non-Violence (CCNV), our nation’s largest homeless shelter. CCNV is a completely volunteer-run organization and most employees were once homeless themselves. While it is wonderful that these people are gaining job skills, I believe their lack of experience with people presents issues to the organization. Working with the homeless population on a daily basis has hardened their heart. I think this presents an issue that happens to many people in the human services field. It is very important that we do not lose our humanity while fighting for it. During my work with refugee and homeless organizations, I have observed a real lack of resources necessary for people to escape their current situation. I realize that people and funding are needed to implement these programs. This is an area I am extremely interested in pursuing.
Aside from my volunteer experience, I have worked with Lee Hecht Harrison, a human capital solutions firm, since 2002. I started out as the Client Services Coordinator, providing customer service to our clients, as well as administrative assistance to the staff. I was promoted to Assistant Business Manager in 2004, taking over the operational aspects of the office, including customer billing, employee payroll, expense reports and travel arrangements. In 2007, I was asked to move into a project management role, handling all of the logistical planning and follow-up for our group projects. I have also been indirectly responsible for the Marketing Coordinator, who handles our entire customer and client administrative needs. I will remain at Lee Hecht Harrison until July, where I will resign to begin a new chapter in my life.
Pursuing a Masters degree in Social Work will empower me. It will give me the tools, resources and knowledge to guide young girls, advocate for refugees and make an impact on the homeless population. My experience has shown me that there is critical need in these areas. I would like to play a role in helping individuals see their self-worth; this enables them to pass on their positive experiences to others in similar situations. I have witnessed this personally as my own mother broke the chain of abuse in our family. Mogtaba is a perfect illustration of refugees creating change in their community. In the homeless population, CCNV has proven the possibility of escape from poverty through community, though much work needs to be done. Until now, my academic and career experiences have failed to connect me at the personal level. I have been inspired by the power of the individual and I am ready to move to a more hands-on career path.