Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Why Social Work?

I haven't mentioned yet that I'm getting my Masters at Columbia University School of Social Work. As one of my friends (Miss Virginia Brown) pointed out when she visited, "it's the little black dress of degrees; you can dress it up or dress it down." I loved it when she said it and I love it now - it's an adorable way of saying an MSW is really what you make it. There are those I've met on the "Policy" end of the spectrum that may have no desire to see a client in their lives. They're content in offices doing the behind-the-scenes work that leads to crucial public change. There are those like me that are very "Clinical" with a strong desire to wok one-on one with people. The majority of people find their interests somewhere between the two extremes. You can work anywhere from old age homes to the the United Nations, local hospitals to clinics in Ethiopia, prisons to schools (I'd guess some kids may not see the distinction between the last two). But you get my point. It's an incredibly maliable degree and I think that was it's main appeal for me. I can't see myself ever getting bored because I could be that woman who reinvents herself whenever I want, however I want, as many times as I want.

As you'll learn from talking to most MSW students, there's often a pretty distinct reason they're there. It's just one of those degrees that seems come with a story and I've had a great time listening to what those might be. Certainly, my own chronic illness gave me a profound empathy for people also living with pain or illness. Although my current first year internship consists of 21 hours a week at a Foster Care agency, my ultimate hope is to work with children, adolescents and families affected by chronic illness and/or disabilities. I'd love for my second placement to be in a Children's hospital or Special Needs school and have dreams of one day having an alternative-therapy based private practice (more on this later).

If you want to know when I realized this, just go back a bit to that curly haired girl I mentioned from my childhood. I'm really no different now. I remember always writing books or newspapers about my experience (come to think of it - kind of like this blog! ) and actually came across one of these little "publications" at my parents' house last summer. It's cute, but sad to see the words of an 8 year-old who was trying to be brave for other kids. I so calmly explained MRIs, bloodtests, and living with disease. I don't think I found a true outlet until I heard about Sunshine Campus near Rochester, NY whose tag line is "A Special Place for Special Kids." My first summer as a volunteer counselor (and the four after that) would start me securely on my path to Social Work. Thanks again for reading and check back for a detailed post about my life-altering years at camp.


  1. Thanks for your post on my blog. I'm interested in getting my MSW as well. It's great to see someone else with a chronic illness successfully pursuing a master's degree. I had to take some time out after my bachelor's cause my illness was so consuming. Best wishes! What a great field to be in!

  2. Thanks for your post! That's great that you're looking at an MSW - from what I read of your blog so far, it seems you'll be a perfect fit. It certainly wont be an easy road, but I'm determined to get there (even if it takes me longer). Please feel free to follow my blog and hopefully we can be a good resource for each other. Do you have the names of other blogs that you enjoy?