At GSSW there seems to be a pretty balanced population of students who came straight to graduate school from undergraduate and those folks that have been working in the field for anywhere from 1 year to 25 years. From my perspective, there are benefits to both and both groups have a lot to offer classroom discussions, each having a different perspective on those populations that we will serve.
As a student that worked for a number of years before returning to graduate school, I find that those people that have worked tend to have had their “perfect world” bubble burst long before now. When you enter the field of social work, regardless of what you studied as an undergraduate, there is a definite period of time when you realize how little you were taught about the reality of the world we live in and the work that we will do as social workers. You are provided with a new lens through which to look at the clients we serve, the challenges facing non-profits and the discrepancies between the goal of public policy and their actual outcomes.
I value the time I spent in the workforce and feel that I’m a better graduate student because of it. It allowed me to find out what I didn’t want to do as a professional social worker and helped clarify/narrow down what I did want to do. I also believe that the pressures of work environments taught me to be a better student than I was as an undergraduate (though I was still an overachiever then, too).
I’ve been pulled in two directions… I have to balance a tug of war between my competing attractions: international human rights and social work. One day, my thoughts slowly drift into an international world of theory. My brain is twisted in a million ways, forced to conceptualize the complexities of human rights and human wrongs. And then, the cloud that surrounds my thoughts dissipates and forces me to fall to land where community social work practice is my mantra.
It has been difficult to balance this double attraction, this multidimensional gravitation that seems to make my life incredibly complicated and incredibly interesting simultaneously. But…it is a worthwhile endeavor. I feel like my brain is being worked in every way possible, forced to understand the delicate and necessary balance between theory and practice. Who says I can’t have the best of both attractions?
Studying both international human rights and social work has opened my eyes to the diversity of options that lay before me as I enter the professional world. This coming summer, I will have to opportunity to spend two months in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where I will have an international social work field placement that integrates my intersecting interests. It will allow me to explore international opportunities for professional development and understand the complexities of NGOs and international nonprofits. Importantly, knowledge from my international human rights education has opened my eyes to transnational migration flows that lead many people to the United States, people with whom I interact daily in my current field placement with a community organizing nonprofit. A global knowledge base contributes greatly to my understanding of social work practice and is increasingly important in our transnational world. Ultimately, I hope it leads me to an academic social work position, where I can work with future students in the classroom and contribute to scholarly knowledge about the intersection of globalization and social work.
In just a few short weeks, ECO Conscious, the new student organization at GSSW, will be hosting some important events during Earth Week! ECO’s mission: “to promote conservation and environmental justice within the social work profession and to demonstrate such principals in the classroom and community.” FLOW, For Love of Water, a documentary about the world water crisis, will be presented for several GSSW classes and will offer the opportunity for dialogue about social work’s role in the environmental crisis. On Saturday, April 23, members of GSSW will also have the opportunity to participate in the S. Platte River Clean-Up with other local organizations. In an effort to generate dialogue and action in the social work community around environmental issues, Earth Week will be a great way for the social work community’s involvement in global and local issues.
This weekend I had the opportunity to participate in a unique activity with my internship. I intern with Girl Scouts of Colorado. Since Denver is the capitol of Colorado our local Girl Scouts have the opportunity to participate in numerous events that involve our political atmosphere. Last Saturday they participated in “Earth Hour.”
Xcel Energy sponsored our event and offered each Girl Scouting family to bring in their old incandescent light bulbs to trade out for Compact Fluorescent Bulbs that use less energy and create less waste. Also at the event our local Council staff (myself included) hosted a table where the girls could fold paper cranes to send to Japan in support of the recent tsunami and earthquake that happened March 11th. Each girl was able to make a few cranes to send off and then also received a instruction sheet for how to make more if they choose to.
It was powerful to be a part of this event – mostly because I got to witness young girls being involved in important issues like energy conservation and international support efforts. If young people make a habit of things like this early on, they are more likely to continue doing it in their future. Yay for empowering young girls!!
Here are some pictures from the event:
Yesterday, I attended a lecture presented by Dr. Charles Payne, a professor at the University of Chicago. Sponsored by GSSW’s 80th Anniversary Lecture Series, Dr. Payne spoke about the role of mobilized communities in life outcomes for children. He presented information about urban education reform and struck a chord when he discussed the significance of parent and community engagement for social change. I currently intern for a community organizing non-profit in a Denver public school, with a focus on parent engagement and school reform. When Dr. Payne addressed the critical role of social networking and social capital in sustainable change and the potential for community empowerment through engagement, he provided a national context for the work I am involved in here in Denver. His lecture was incredibly thought-provoking and powerful and it provided the opportunity for me to begin thinking about the role of my research at my internship currently and how I can contribute to the body of knowledge about social capital and community mobilization.
When you move to Denver, a great way to stay connected to cheap eats, activities or self care options is to sign up with Groupon. Groupon is a website that emails out specials and promotions offered by local businesses at a SUPER discount! For example, I’m getting a $50 facial for $20 next week! Most deals are 20-75% the original price! Sweet way to have some cheap fun!
GSSW faculty scholars N. Eugene Walls and Julie Laser collaborated with GSSW doctoral student Sarah J. Nickels and GSSW alum Hope Wisneski to examine the factors that are associated with increased likelihood of engaging in cutting behavior among lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, and transgender youth and young adults.1 Across various statistical models, they found that female- and trans-identified LGBQT youth and young adults were at significantly greater risk of cutting than their male-identified counterparts. Other factors associated with greater likelihood include victimization, homelessness, depression, suicide attempts, smoking tobacco, and having friends in their close friendship network who attempted suicide. The risk for the behavior appears to decrease with increased age and with having an adult teacher, social worker, or other school personnel with whom the youth can talk about sexual orientation and gender identity.
One interesting finding is that youth who were more out about their sexual orientation and/or gender identity were at increased risk of engaging in the behavior. Since being out is typically associated with greater mental health and resilience, this finding may seem counter-intuitive. However, the researchers point out, that the impact of coming out is frequently contextual – so if youth come out in an environment that invalidates or stigmatizes their identities it would not be surprising to find such a result. More research on the topic of cutting and other non-suicidal self-injurious behavior among LGBQT youth is clearly warranted.
1Walls, N. E., Laser, J., Nickels, S., & Wisneski, H. (2010). Correlates of cutting behavior among sexual minority youth and young adults. Social Work Research, 34, 213-226.
The following track / certificate / program information sessions are intended for students as they plan their concentration for the academic year 2011-2012. Requirements and specific offerings change from year to year, so always check your student handbook for accurate information.
Continue reading “Track / Certificate / Program Information Sessions 2011 part 2 (VIDEO)”
The following track / certificate / program information sessions are intended for students as they plan their concentration for the academic year 2011-2012. Requirements and specific offerings change from year to year, so always check your student handbook for accurate information. Look for sessions on High-Risk Youth Track, Denver Family Institute cooperative program, Social Work with Latinos/as Certificate, Animal Assisted Social Work Certificate, and Interpersonal Trauma Studies Certificate to be recorded and posted over the next two weeks.
Continue reading “Track / Certificate / Program Information Sessions 2011 part 1 (VIDEO)”
My field placement experience has changed drastically since first quarter. The work I did at my adoption agency during my first quarter seemed mundane and pointless. I rarely felt like the was contributing to the agency or being of value. That’s now all changed!
After receiving training in early December to complete SAFE Home Studies, Continue reading “2nd Quarter Internship”