School of Social Work, Personal Statement Example
Words: 1719Personal Statement
We all have responsibilities towards the society we belong to because the society prospers when its members realize their interdependence upon each other as well as help each other out. People usually have different circumstances, often due to factors outside their control such as birthplace, family, and economic background. Some are more fortunate while others are less fortunate but ultimately everyone is born with certain inalienable rights such as the right to live with dignity and have a fair access to opportunities. The profession of social work exists to help the less fortunate live with dignity and have a fair shot at making their lives better because one’s destiny in life should not be primarily determined by his/her birth circumstances. I believe social work’s core values include social justice, individual dignity, and fair access to opportunities for everyone as well as ensuring that everyone is able to realize his/her true potential. This philosophy has helped me become more respectful towards everyone no matter what their social, economic, ethnic, or national background may be and has also made me a better communicator. In addition, I have also become less judgmental and more understanding of others’ problems.
I come from anupper middle-class background, with my family being involved in a family business for decades. Moreover, I have always been part of a big extended family as is usually the case in many Asian cultures that emphasize collectivism over individualism. Thus, when I first started engaging in volunteer activities, it was more out of sense of responsibility towards the society. Involvement in volunteer activities made me feel good because it was my way of fulfilling my moral and ethical duties. But my attitude towards social work changed after attending Clinton Global Initiative University Conference in which I participated as an usher to escort speakers and conference attendees.I realized that the true purpose of social work is not merely to fulfill one’s moral obligations but to make sure that the social projects actually make a difference which is only possible with a proper plan.The experience also provided me the opportunity to engage in discussions with the participants and made me realized that social initiatives that lack objectives and proper roadmap are waste of scarce resources and sometimes do more damage than good. For example, instead of helping the subjects take charge of their lives, social programs may further increase the reliance of subjects on aid.
Once I heard an award recipient arguing that people who have the privilege of receiving education have great responsibility giving back to the community. The argument inspired me to think deeply as to how I could best fulfill my responsibilities towards the community. A summer research experience at Town & Country Learning Center,where a co-worker and Icreated and implemented a successful program to convince children to substitute junk food with healthy food,finally provided the answer that I could fulfill my responsibilities towards the community by helping people make positive changes in their lives.I have observed that one of the best ways to become an effective social worker is to learn through in-field experience. Over the years, I have been involved with a wide range of programs that have allowed me to work with different groups. Each experience has given me valuable insights as to what differentiates successful social workers from less effective ones and I hope to use these lessons going forward.
One of the projects I worked on involved educating middle school students on new technologies. These students came from underserved areas in the San Diego County and we found that they didn’t have the supplies or computers over which they could learn programming. We contacted an engineering professor from University of California, San Diego who agreed to provide computers for the training session. This experience taught me that a social worker should make sure he/she has access to all the necessary resources to do the job. One can devise very effective solutions to social issues but if he/she doesn’t have the resources, even the best-designed solutions are useless.
Another project I worked on was a year-long mentorship program for high school teenagers who lived in a foster home named ‘The Bridge’ in southern part of San Diego. My responsibilities included inspiring students to continue to pursue education even after high school. It was soon apparent to me and my fellow mentors that the children were difficult subjects due to unfortunate life experiences such as trauma in the family, being taken away from home due to unfit parents, and having inferiority issues due to living close to prosperous city of La Jolla. The teenagers at The Bridge were not only rebellious but even refused to interact with or listen to us. The teenagers wouldeven bully their fellow residents and refused to follow our lesson plans because they thought of us as guests who had no rights to impose orders on them. I arranged a meeting with other mentors and we decided to split children groups among us and approach them without a formal plan.
Our goal was to build rapport with the teenagers and slowly gain their cooperation. I listened to personal issues of the teenagers and encouraged them to talk to me about literally anything they may want to. This helped me get close to them and I consulted with each subject individually to create a custom lesson plan. I also designed incentive plans that would reward those who successfully achieve the objectives mentioned in the lesson plans. The solution worked and we were able to inspire a significant proportion of the teenagers to pursue college education. The lessons learnt from the experience were that it is very important for a social worker to built rapport with the subject otherwise subject would refuse to open up or even cooperate at the basic level. I also learnt that subjects are more likely to cooperate when we listen to their concerns and incorporate them into solution plans. Subjects are more motivated to follow plans in which they have a personal stake. I also learnt that subjects trust you if you convince them you have a genuine understanding of their problems and a sincere desire to help them improve.
The last experience which proved to be very educational was my time with social action theatre troupe. I auditioned for the role of actress who fights for social justice. The program required a strict commitment and participants were not allowed to drop in the middle of the program. As a result, most applicants withdrew their application and only ten candidates including me remained. In addition to my academic responsibilities, I also had to report for rehearsal every other day. We performed at a significant number of places including high schools, community centers, and college residential halls. The experience taught me that patience and commitment are one of the major requirements in the social work field and once a social worker commits to something, he/she should do everything in his/her capacity to see through the goal.
I am seeking graduate degree in social work because I believe in continuous education and hope that the graduate program will help me become acquainted with the latest ideas and best practices in the social work field. I also like the fact that graduate programs in social work take more real-world approach to learning and a combination of in-class education and field learningensures that the students can test the theories to determine their effectiveness. Moreover, I will be interacting with several smart students who may have their own experiences and stories to tell which will expand my thinking horizon. I hope social work education will also allow me to network with industry leaders and expand my career possibilities.
The social welfare issues that particularly attract my attention are related to children, especially from neglected backgrounds. I am fortunate to have grown in a stable family where I had several grown-ups to guide me. If it were not for those willing to guide me, I would never have come this far. This is why I am particularly empathetic towards teenagers who get in trouble with the law because I know they often do not have the maturity to make responsible decisions. Legal punishment is not the solution to their problems because it only makes them further detached from the society. Such children need our help in becoming more productive members of the society.
My initial major was psychology but I struggled in it because of language problems in the beginning and was even put on academic probation. Being put on academic probation was quite stressful as I had always been a top student back home. I talked with the professor and fellow American and international students and eventually discovered that memorizing psychology concepts by way of writing helped me retain the material for longer periods of time. As soon as I followed the new study technique, my grades started improving but by that time I had gradually started developing interest in social work due to volunteer experiences and participation in social work events. But changing to a major in social work was not easy due to strong opposition from my family. Like most Asian families, my family also wanted me to pursue a major with high income potential and our differences even resulted in temporary estrangement. Eventually I was able to convince my family that income was not my sole career concern because I also wanted to make a positive difference in the world and perceptions of social work in the west are much better than in the east.
I am aware of the fact that graduate education can be costly and rigorous but my life experiences demonstrate that once I commit to something, I do everything in my capacity to see through the objective. My experiences in the field of social work have also helped me build strong work ethics as well as improve time management skills which will come in handy as I pursue my graduate education. My social work experiences especially year-long mentorship of the teenagers at The Bridge should be able to convince anyone that I have both the physical and mental strength to accomplish the requirements of the graduate study and field work.I am excited at the prospect of being part of the graduate social work program and hope to be an exemplary ambassador of the university in the real world.
Time is precious
don’t waste it!