XXXX University is my first choice for earning my MSW Degree because of the sheer excellence of your program and the fact that Los Angeles has always been my home. Born and raised in LA, my mother’s family is in Mexico, and I have visited them yearly throughout my life. Thus, I am a thoroughly bilingual and bicultural Mexican American between my mother and the support and love of her family on visits to Mexico. I see this as a great asset as a social worker, being able to function fully and to make creative contributions in both languages, multilingual and multicultural assistance to Latinos and non-Latinos alike, always with particular attention to the underserved, many of whom speak Spanish, especially here in Southern California.
After high school, I joined the army and could travel for the first time anywhere besides Mexico. I went to basic training in Ft. Lee, Virginia, then Ft. Jackson, South Carolina. Coming from LA, the old US South was a culture shock for me, the sense of racism just under the surface and traditional attitudes, yet all of that mixed with the great diversity fostered by the military. I have learned many things and grown in meaningful ways as a soldier that
I feel it will help me excel as a social work professional, especially in cultural appreciation.
At first, life in the military was difficult, and I sometimes felt scared and overwhelmed, even crying myself to sleep at night. After basic training, I was stationed in South Korea for one year. Again, I experienced an entirely new culture and a new military context abroad. The important thing, however, is how my military years helped me become more robust, wiser, and capable personally and professionally.
After Korea, I was sent to Ft. Hood, Texas, where I completed my service. In 2011 I earned my associate degree in social and behavioral sciences from LA Community College, which gave me the confidence to go on and get my bachelor's degree in social work from California State University in LA in June of 2014. Since May 2015, I have been employed full-time as a Case Manager at a mental health hospital, and I love my job. Now, I am applying to study for the MSW Degree so that I might advance professionally, assume more significant levels of responsibility, and enhance my contribution to my society.
I want to provide the finest, state-of-the-art therapy to my clients who suffer from depression, schizophrenia, bipolarity, etc. I look forward to paying particular attention in the years to come, both as a graduate student and beyond, to the issue of clients feeling "handicapped" by their diagnosis of mental illness. There is nothing that I love more than providing those who face mental health challenges with the best tools to help them to learn to manage successfully and, in some cases, recover from a mental illness.
I look forward to many decades of helping my patients to reach their goals and to refuse to be held down by labels or diagnoses. I will empower them to take charge of their life and learn how to control their symptoms so they can succeed at whatever they dream of doing. Especially since I have served as a soldier, I would love to help veterans deal with their traumas and family and personal issues. I also have a deep and abiding interest in our older population and the unique mental health challenges they face.
I may decide to specialize in gerontology; my passion is so deep in this area that I have daydreamed many times of someday starting and running a senior center or senior living program. I hope always to remain engaged directly with clients. I want to be a director of a community mental health program eventually; I would enjoy teaching at some point in my career. Thus, I look forward to a diversity of social work experiences, and I do not want to limit my interests currently to one area of social work. I always want to remain open to novelty, whatever life brings my way.
I was voted best soldier in my platoon during boot camp because I helped my battle buddy. She was short and petite and struggled a lot, and I was always there to give her a hand. I made sure she was in her foxhole before I got into mine. I helped guide her through nighttime training because she could not see very well in the dark. Everyone voted for me not because I performed better than anyone else but because I took care of ‘Jane’ every step.
And it was indeed my pleasure; I did not feel burdened. I couldn't imagine how hard it must have been for her during all our exercises and training. I am a strong candidate for social work because of how I treat others, giving my all to help them along. Most importantly, I take pride in being an excellent listener, always encouraging people to express themselves fully.
I especially enjoy learning about and from the older population. I have taken several classes dealing with older people's issues, and those are the ones I wanted most of all. I became most excited when I learned that shortly, there would be a great need for social workers in the field of gerontology because all the baby boomers will retire and need care. I have also studied the psychological aspects of aging and difficulties arising from how our American culture tends to idolize youth.
Once I return to civilian life as a veteran, I will increasingly engage with veterans’ issues, especially mental health, and PTSD. I was fortunate enough not to be sent to Iraq or Afghanistan. When I first arrived at Ft. Hood, Texas, my company was returning from Iraq. I heard many battle stories, most of which were about soldiers that never returned or did so, primarily destroyed physically and emotionally. I interacted with many soldiers that were depressed, stressed, and anxiously waiting to finish their time and go home. Being in the military is a huge sacrifice and takes an enormous toll on soldiers, many if not most of them coming back with PTSD and struggling valiantly to rebuild an everyday life. In the future, putting my MSW to work, I want to help veterans to heal their emotional battle wounds. One of the reasons why I am so passionate about veterans’ issues is my passion for helping homeless people. So many of our veterans are homeless in America, most needing mental health assistance. I have worked as a volunteer for the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count. Each year we hit the streets of LA to find out how many homeless there are.
I may also do research on women veterans like me at some point. It seems most unlikely that I will see combat in the brief time I have remaining as a woman in the military. But I want to stay abreast of developments as women in the military increasingly assume full combat roles, thus incurring the consequences. Growing up in the company of mostly women resulted in my closeness to and appreciation for women. I feel a closer bond with women than men, especially in the military. Being in the military is tough, but being a woman in the military is even more challenging. Working with men has always been difficult. Women soldiers sometimes must prove they are strong enough to perform specific jobs. We must deal with sexist comments. Some women have been raped. I will always be close to these issues.
Working at a Senior Center as a social work assistant has been the highlight of my professional life outside of the military up to that point. I helped seniors with medical insurance problems, immigration issues, and applications for services. Most of all, I listened to them and encouraged them when they felt discouraged. I reminded them that they should still have dreams and goals at their age; it is never too late to start a new hobby or relationship. These days as a case manager, I help my clients who are underserved by linking them to the resources that they need. Most of my clients come straight out of jail and need help getting settled back into our society. I help them get a bus pass, medical insurance, cell phone service, and, most importantly, employment.
I joined the Army one month after graduating high school and have proudly served for three years. The experience and skills that I have gained during that time are something that I see as priceless, especially as our military is a community of people working together and helping one another achieve a mission. This sense of professional community and mission is also an essential aspect of social work: teamwork and collaboration between therapists, psychiatrists, case managers, etc. While serving in the Army, I was confronted with stressful, uncomfortable, and dangerous situations. In Social work, I will experience remarkably similar problems. I know first-hand what it's like to be separated from family and the difficulty of adjusting to new locations and rigorous demands. I can relate to people going through similar situations. Excelling in the military is a lot like excelling as a social worker; both require a great deal of selflessness and loyalty to one’s mission.
Thank you for considering my application to XXXX University.
MSW Personal Purpose Statement Military Social Work PTSD