I am applying to the online, dual master's degree Program in Social Work and Jurisprudence at ____ University. Now fifty-six, I am a well-read and well-traveled African American woman and the mother of two happy and healthy children, now adults. I finished my undergraduate studies in 2012, earning a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Criminal Justice and an AS Degree in Sociology from Southeastern Louisiana University. I seek to become a legal professional focused on social work and helping vulnerable individuals in my community.
My interest in social work as a profession is grounded in the experience of being raised by a single mother in a marginalized and impoverished community. Later, earning my 4-year degree in Criminal Justice reflected my profound concern for social and racial justice and the need for legal reform to help ensure equal treatment, particularly for people of color incarcerated in grossly disproportionate numbers, African American and Latino men, and juveniles. My perspectives and interests have been colored by the simple experience of being black in America, on top of being poor. I know firsthand the vulnerabilities and stigmas that accompany poverty. Poor people are discriminated against based on numerous factors - clothing, skin color, disabilities, neighborhood, or the dirt underneath their fingernails. I want to become a legal professional and a social worker to have the privilege of defending the rights of those who cannot protect themselves or are afraid to stand up for their rights. I seek to help young people of color, helping them to build a foundation of life skills that do not lead to jail care.
I was nine years old when I realized that there is power in the ability to use words to sway others effectively. Growing up, every summer and fall6th-grade, my mother, who had a 6th-grade education, my grandmother, who had no formal education, and others, all with minimal instruction, would pile in the back of a pickup truck at 4 AM to be carried off to neighboring parishes and hired-out as farmhands to pick the farmers’ harvest: strawberry, sugar cane, cucumbers whatever was in season. We did this because we had not yet learned how to use words to defend ourselves and to live fulfilling, dignified lives free of exploitation. I want to empower people to attain not riches but stability and a shot at health and happiness.
It has always been my desire to give back to my community, and I have become convinced that earning the double master's degree online at Tulane is my next step. I passionately believe that the combination of Law and Social Work has found me, because of my life experiences and the way the field offers multiple opportunities to pursue various career paths. I think of the double Master as the two pillars upon which I will achieve my ideals of service to the fullest, serving as an advocate for the disabled, disadvantaged, and underserved.
A highly responsible person and an independent thinker, I speak up when I see something wrong, and I am not afraid to question those in authority. As I have gotten older, family and friends have come to rely on my sound advice. I have experience serving as an unofficial defender in the courtroom. My friend had so much confidence in me to effectively state her case in the small claims court, that she paid for our travel to San Antonio, Tx where her small claims case was being heard. We won. Liz was awarded the money she paid for a Volkswagen beetle she had purchased online and awarded travel expenses. I got a taste of the courtroom.
My friend and I sat at the defense table. The courtroom was small, with only the bailiff, judge, recording secretary, me, my friend, the defendant, and his wife in attendance. When my friend is upset, she gets tongue-tied and stutters. The judge granted me the opportunity to speak on her behalf. We were prepared, but the defendant was not. We submitted evidence, text messages, emails, certified letters, false online advertisements, and more.
In 2019, I was elected President of the union of employees of Lallie Kemp Hospital, after I spoke out against unfair policies during a town hall meeting. I represent, advise, and prepare LKRMC-local 3121 union members for disciplinary meetings, and effectively use facility policy and procedure to assist members in their cases. I have worked hard not to abuse this power, not to discriminate against anyone for any reason, or to treat anyone in a favored way. The Lallie Kemp Hospital Administration held a town hall for employees to air grievances. But out of fear of retaliation, the employees who would stop by my office to vent chose to sit quietly during the meeting. I completely understood their silence when you have a family and other obligations you learn to pick your battles. I felt compelled to speak, I went to the podium and spoke about workplace bullying, promotions, professional development, and unequal treatment. Soon after, the Hospital Administration decided to form an employee committee and allow employees to elect whom they wanted to represent them. The employees chose me to serve as a member of the “Positive Change” committee.
My first career choice was to become a lawyer to protect the fundamental rights of underserved people. Then I studied Social Work because of my keen desire to give back to the community. I have always wanted to be a Lawyer. Now, I would like to be a Social Worker too and be able to advocate based on a solid knowledge base concerning the needs of our clients, defending, and serving as a resource for impoverished and disabled people in the community. The best way to do so, as I see it, is to earn an Online MJ Degree with a particular focus on Labor & Employment Law., to complement my MSW.
I am the founder and President of Quintessential Community Services a 501c nonprofit, as well as President of a small business that is driven by the talents of its employees and contractors, learning skills that will serve me well as a social worker.
I unexpectedly became my mother’s full-time caregiver after she had a horrendous fall and broke her hip in 2013; she also needed knee replacement surgery. In 2014, my daughter was diagnosed for the first time with schizoaffective disorder. Two days after my daughter earned her nursing degree, she had her first psychotic episode. Her roommate called me frantic saying, “Kea is outside, nude, talking to herself, the Police and EMT are here, and she is being transported to a psychiatric hospital in Opelika, Alabama¨. I told my supervisor I had a family emergency and drove to Alabama in less than five hours. My first exposure to a professional Social Worker came when Kea was assigned a case worker. She was phenomenal, she educated me on the disease and provided support groups for me as well as Kean once she was discharged.
Earlier, in 2009, I began working at Northlake Support and Service Center; a State-operated facility for individuals with behavioral and developmental disabilities. I served as an Administrative Coordinator for the Director of Nursing and later as Assistant to the Executive Administrator. Those opportunities gave me a firsthand awareness of the various disabilities that our residents had to deal with: deaf, blind, learning, speech, physical, behavioral, and neurological conditions, etc. I was the point person, a liaison between staff, social workers, and family, delivering pertinent information to all. I did not provide direct care to the residents. Still, I did work alongside several of the residents (such a delight) whose job was to make copies or shred paper in the office. Overall, the facility offered a home to many individuals with disabilities, onsite medical staff, and individualized care, tailored to activities of daily living.
When the Hammond State School Board terminated Northlake Support and Service Center’s funding, closure sent shock waves throughout the facility campus. The closure was executed expeditiously, lay-offs were given the same day, and the coordination of transporting residents, placement concerns, family planning, and more was carried out with efficiency. I was highly motivated to assist the social workers, advocate for the residents, and to help their families in finding local alternative housing for individuals in need of support with all types of disabilities. I was disheartened to discover how little we were able to do with the minimal resources that we had to work with.
The culmination of my professional interest in social work came when I started working at ____’s Mental Health Clinic. I saw up close in real-time the positive impact social workers can have on the lives of their patients. I was fascinated by the social workers’ enormous caseloads and the diverse populations they serve daily. Social workers factored in the social and economic dynamics of the client in question in the selection of a treatment plan that was tailored to fit the patient’s mental health and social needs. They served as advocates for patients, providing community resources, and securing affordable housing and life-saving medical equipment that the patient needed.
I am employed at the last remaining “charity” hospital in Louisiana, ____ Regional Medical Center. For six years I have been providing exceptional advocacy and integrative social services to a diverse community. I am aware of the impact that a social worker can have on an individual’s life. By serving my patients and their families, I demonstrate our ‘core values’ of service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, the importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence.
I fully share these values and have always sought to demonstrate, uphold, and advance them in my work and will continue to do so for the balance of my career. I now fervently hope to be accepted into the online MSW and Jurisprudence Program at ____ University, where I look forward to decisively expanding my skills and knowledge, to be of service to disenfranchised populations.
I like to think of myself as an independent self-starter; in 2019, I saw a need in my community and decided to start a community-based nonprofit: Quintessential Community Services a (501c) nonprofit located in Hammond, Louisiana. When I took on this endeavor, it was not to make money but to fill a need in people’s lives. While the project is still in its infancy, I look forward to investing in it over time, to eventually offer mental health counseling, substance abuse, domestic violence resources, and a Development Center that includes after-school programs, legal and notary services, computer and Internet access and a community garden.
I have come to appreciate how learning to live successfully for those challenged to do so, is difficult without sound legal counseling for many if not most families, at some point in time. I want to be a social worker who can offer sound legal advice to my clients, street sense, Dutch Uncle reality, and be straight up front with them concerning the gravity of the challenges that they face and the odds that are stacked against them, at the same time that I give them hope, solidarity, and the sense that someone knowledgeable and honest is on their side, fighting on their behalf to defend their wellbeing.
Thank you for considering my application.