As I begin my Spring 2017 semester at the Graduate College of Social Work, I have much to reflect on and look forward to. In my first semester, the Fall of 2016, I was balancing quite a load. In the midst of my foundation coursework, I was also working for my field practicum hours, a part-time job, and was planning my wedding to my now husband. Although this all sounds a bit much, I was honestly only able to do it smoothly and with joy because of my wonderful family and friends. Looking forward into the spring semester, I am excited for new classes. Plus, who doesn’t love a fresh start?

I am very excited to start off the Spring 2017 semester for many reasons other than a new class, work, and field schedule. For my field practicum site, we manage and help to facilitate Girls On the Run (GOTR), which is a non-profit program for girls in the 3rd through 8th grade. The GOTR mission is to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running. Outside of the GCSW, I work for YES Prep Public schools part time as my school campus’ executive assistant. Normally, I do most administrative tasks and project management, with low emphasis on direct student interfacing. However, my field instructor has encouraged and planned with me so that we can start a GOTR program at my YES campus, which is one of the YES campuses which did not have the program before now. Thus, I will be the leader responsible for managing and facilitating the start-up of this evidence-based program at my school. It will be a great opportunity for me to gain field hours, while growing professionally as a social worker and leader, and of course, while benefiting my field site, work place, and our clients. I look forward to these upcoming opportunities be a catalyst for social justice in both my workplace and my field practicum site, through opportunities that the Graduate College of Social Work has provided.

Lastly, as we breach the topic of moving forward, I cannot discuss 2017 without discussing this month’s current events and how they connect to our role as social workers and advocates. As many were with the news of our president-elect, I was shocked, sad, angry, and withdrawn. Among many issues, I was mostly shocked as to how someone with such opposing values and attitudes from that of me as a social worker could have the power to change my country and world. Many of the clients I have worked with in the past and wish to work for in the future are directly impacted by this person’s words and the actions he incites. For quite a while after the electoral news, I had a very hard time entertaining any conversation remotely related to it. Then, soon after, I turned my energy into reading more about my social-work related interests such as policy, community organizing, and more. Also, I started taking more time to listen—to listen to my own thoughts and to the thoughts of others more than ever. Listening and learning in this time may not have made me less disappointed or dissatisfied with the election results, but it did bring me peace, which in turn has given me the opportunity for action. Action—to think about how I want my career and life to reflect solutions for my frustrations or anger. With action, I’m also committed to have more courageous conversations and to speaking up more often, even when it’s tough or uncomfortable. I am proud that the coursework at the Graduate College of Social Work allows students to prepare for conversations, actions, and careers such as these. It is obvious that we as social workers and others in helping professions are needed more now than ever, but also, how lucky for us that we have the skills and knowledge to tackle real problems. Our work is cut out for us. We shall move forward with even more grit and determination than before.

Written by: Amanda Rocha

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