Well-needed Break at Home

One of my favourite aspects of the social work profession is the importance of incorporating self-care.  Professors within the GCSW will sporadically remind us of the significance of looking after ourselves, to ensure we are able to work at our optimum.  While on the winter break, I am taking every opportunity I can to enjoy relaxing with my family and friends.

Texas is my home for most of the year, however I get to go to my homeland for Christmas and New Year.  In Scotland, we enjoy a good party and for Hogmanay (New Years Eve) and I was lucky enough to attend the Hogmanay party in Edinburgh.  It was a great experience with fireworks, music, and 75,000 people from all over the world.  While on the street I heard an assortment of accents/languages including Polish, French, Japanese, American, Australian, Chinese, and many more.  It was fantastic to experience a party in my home country that was attended by people from all over the world.

In between all the eating, gift exchanging, and reuniting there has been room for discussions.  One interesting aspect about being at home, is hearing the opinion on world issues from those experiencing it in a different country.  Throughout the year there have been a number of news headlines from Ebola, to Ferguson.  It has been refreshing discussing all the top stories from the last year with a British twist on it.  There are a few highly educated family members who enjoy sharing their opinion and it was empowering to have them value my opinion, as they were interested to hear where I was coming from.  In past times, at home, I generally kept out of the discussions but I have realised the importance of having confidence to open my mouth.

My whole time at home has allowed me to recuperate and recharge for the last year of my MSW.  I look forward to returning to Houston, but for the next couple weeks I am all about self-care with my family, no treble.

By: Lauren Emmerson

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Foundation Semester

As the semester comes to a close, I am in awe of all I have learned, experienced and gained the past four months. Serendipity is the word that comes to mind regarding the foundation semester at GCSW. This semester has been one of solid preparation, from the classroom to professors to field placement to support through a cohort. How do you describe a first semester graduate school experience that has exceeded your expectations?

When I think of the foundation of a building, I think about the hidden beams, concrete, and partitions in place to make that building strong. The foundation establishes the strength of the structure. Every portion of the Foundation Semester is important to producing a competent, prepared and ethical social worker. The knowledge obtained in textbooks, classroom lectures and activities provided me with the essential tools needed to be effective in my field placement. The support I have received from my peers, in addition to encouraging and readily available professors, provided much needed confidence and strength when questions or weariness arose.

The encouragement, support and knowledge I gleaned from the social workers at my field placement, The Council on Alcohol and Drugs, have been extremely positive.  My field supervisor exceeds my expectations as she diligently works to provide me her time, along with opportunities for exposure to a diverse client base, research and the policies affecting the population seeking treatment through the CRADLES program.  My desire to work with addiction, women, pregnancy and postpartum depression is being fulfilled through my field placement.  Fully aware that not everyone gets their dream field position, I consider myself fortunate to be placed where my interests are fulfilled and knowledge and skills are challenged.

Last, but not least, being an Ambassador for the GCSW has fulfilled one of my dreams to encourage others to pursue graduate school. Addressing the challenges and rewards of this program and the University of Houston, I look forward to another great semester of promoting a career in social work through the GCSW.

By: Greta Nichols Bellinger