My introduction to social work was one of a deeply personal nature. In 1994, I met my first husband – now deceased – a single dad with three children under sixteen. They had lost their mother, and my husband had found it extremely difficult to care for his children, making the emotional decision to send them to be cared for by relatives. While the children were shuffled from one home to another, they suffered emotionally, socially, and psychologically. When my husband and I learned of their problems, I advocated bringing them to us, and took on the responsibility of finding them a school, getting them ready every day, doing all I could to be a good mum.
Despite the stability in their lives, my stepdaughter started having nightmares, slept poorly, and would frequently faint during the day - once she was nearly struck by a car during a fainting spell. She indicated she heard her mother’s voice telling her to come home and if she did not, she felt a huge snake being wrapped around her. I quit my job, and cared for her full-time, getting a specialist to help. It was determined she was suffering emotionally and psychologically from the changes in her life, and Social Services were alerted, thus her counseling began. While doctors and nurses tend to a patient’s body, a social worker is assigned to attend to the ordeal, the mind and the heart, an integral and equally important member of a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals. I was struck by the breadth of the work, and the range of knowledge of the social worker. Equally impressive and eye-opening were the social workers' insights into the situation, and thoughtful examination of the steps, and stresses that led to the point of crisis. It took several years for her nightmares to end, and her life returned to normality.
However, a new waking nightmare began when my husband tested positive for HIV. After the initial shock, I tested negative. I turned to my faith, asking God for guidance. Our lives changed in many ways, keeping our plight to ourselves for fear of being socially ostracized or stigmatized, and to protect our children. Having lost many friends, relatives, and neighbors to AIDS in Uganda, I was aware of the devastating effects of the disease on families and entire communities. Getting the children tested was the next step, and thankfully, the results were negative. I have advised and counseled people affected by HIV/AIDS, and have encouraged many of my relatives, colleagues, and friends to be tested as a preventative measure. Doing all I can, I have advised people of the risks of unprotected sex and the prudence of being tested before marriage, and to carefully consider the consequences of living with HIV/AIDS.
My husband died in 2012 in an automobile accident. To our children’s credit, and my efforts to emphasize their education, they have all excelled in school and their careers. Being remarried, I was blessed with a little girl, but I ended this marriage due to my husband’s violent tendencies. As a single mum, I have found that my daughter is a massive motivation for my going back to school, teaching me to love again, and the joy of teaching. I want to make her world a better place, for her and for her neighbors to share. Turning to the MSW Program at the University of ____ was a natural and logical choice.
I hope to bring with me to the student body one year of paid Social Care Sector work experience. In addition, whilst performing work as a Home Care Assistant for Service Users in their own homes, providing personal care for the elderly and the disabled, I came to realize that my contribution was more than just fulfilling a job: I was adding value to the lives of people. I was encouraging my clients to better themselves physically, emotionally, and psychologically, doing things for themselves, challenging them, and bringing them a sense of accomplishment. Through my experiences, I have developed an impressive knowledge base especially in social services, and an innate ability to work with difficult or vulnerable clients. Furthermore, having worked with flexible and effective teams, I will be a valuable addition to the community of Social Workers.
Previously, I had worked as an Advisor with XXXX, assessing clients’ entitlement for benefits, assisting them with job searches, and giving out information about training and courses. Many experienced barriers to employment such as a lack of qualifications, disabilities, and English as a second language. For these clients, I worked tirelessly, multitasking, and advocating for them with employers, getting them into the job market. Social Work offers this type of personal and professional satisfaction, as well. I anticipate learning how to better assist people in accessing the services they need, to fit their unique circumstances. My compassion and sensitivity combined with listening and interpersonal skills, make me suited to the work. My own experiences have developed my perseverance, and where a client lacks the strength to face the next day, I will be their support. I have the attributes, extensive experience, and skills in place to contribute positively to Social Work.
After earning the MSW I plan to become an HIV/AIDS Social Worker or Coordinator, advocating for victims of the disease, especially children and teens. I have seen and experienced the deficit of relevant services for people from socio-economically depressed backgrounds, and statistically, many are minorities. Information and services need to reach and attend to these groups at all costs, the poor, the sick and the needy. In the golden age of equal opportunity, we need also remember equal access. It is up to the social worker in conjunction with parents, teachers, and prominent community members to identify at-risk populations, not just teens, but also immigrants struggling to become acculturated, and other silent minorities. It is our responsibility to educate everyone about the potential risks. Where we cannot prevent what damage has been done, the social worker can do a great deal to reduce the impact of the all-too-real challenges.
Social workers need to do more to convince health insurance providers and employers of the importance of providing time off, as well as covering the cost of social programs. More provisions need to be made to aid the parents of young children, or those who care for an elderly parent(s) as many people only get help after they hit bottom. Rather than simply finding appropriate programs for those in need, more quality programming needs to be developed, funded, and sustained. And waiting list times need to be reduced.
I want to be al sounding board, a soft place to fall, for the people I counsel. When I see a client in a hole they cannot get out of, I will get in the hole with them. I will be able to tell them not to worry, I have been here before, and I know the way out.
Completing my undergraduate education in England, as well as living and working here, I developed an ability to interact effectively with not only my fellow colleagues, but since having experienced life as, basically, an immigrant, I feel particularly sensitive to the needs of many minorities; combined with this is my ability to speak four languages competently. As a result, I can speak confidently in front of groups of people and am amazingly comfortable in my own skin.
There is a need to reach out to our diverse clients, to understand and appreciate our differences, be it cultural or socioeconomic, an appreciation of the rich tapestry of life that we are all a part of on earth. A future Social Worker needs to be able to interact effectively with people of differing cultures, ethnicities, nationalities, and creeds. This is critically important given the vast influx of person with varied backgrounds into the British healthcare system. Given my cultural competency, I feel I will be completely adept at reaching out to my diverse clients, no matter their country of origin. This is what I bring to the student body, as well, one in which I anticipate many opportunities for group assignments, teamwork and projects.
The University of ____ is my sole choice for scholastic development. In the most practical terms, I want to attend because I live close by. Even more importantly, though, I have been impressed by the relevance of the curriculum, one that helps mature students and those with existing degrees to undertake advanced studies. I anticipate an educational experience with U__ that is unsurpassed, the ideal exposure, and unsurpassed access to resources.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
MSW Masters Social Work HIV/AIDS UK Personal Statement