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Personal Statement – Graduate Program/Social Work sample essay

Since I was a child my passion was in education. If anyone asked me “what do you want to be when you grow up?” my response was always the same “a teacher.” I always had a strong sense of compassion and a strong desire to help people. I consider myself to be very well-rounded, sensitive and a good listener, I am happiest when I am working to help others. When I first started my path towards my bachelor’s degree in education, I knew I was well on my way to becoming a teacher, I was excited to know that my dream was finally coming true. Then one day during my last year at Montclair State University I took a class with Dr. Reid “Field Experience Family/Child Services” that focused on different social issues that affect society. When I heard Dr. Reid discuss various research projects that had been conducted on how children from low socioeconomic households and communities develop academic skills more slowly compared to children from higher socioeconomic groups, I knew that I wanted to affect change on a totally different level.

During the course of that class we discussed how children’s academic skills are directly correlated with their home environment and under- resourced schools often located in lower economic communities. This was very apparent in the field work I did that semester at Straight and Narrow, Inc. located in Paterson New Jersey. This program helped families rebuild relationships after serving time in correctional facilities and/or rehabilitation programs. After that semester I was certain without a doubt that I was making the right decision of changing my major from teaching to social work. Although I have always been blessed in that I was raised by loving parents and have been surrounded by a healthy environment, I have always had and felt compassion for people who were not as fortunate as me. Whether the individual is a child, an elderly person, disabled or financially unstable person, I have always firmly believed that all people are created equal and as such should be treated the same no matter what their circumstances may be.

I have always advocated and assisted people who do not have a voice, are scared or simply do not know where to ask for assistance. Everyone is entitled to be made aware of their rights and if they cannot speak for themselves, they deserve to be assisted by a knowledgeable and professional person who genuinely puts forth an effort to help reach his or her goals. I am saddened when I find out cases where various social services and or resolutions were available but not used in order to assist a child and/or person in need to overcome their circumstances. I have worked in the social service field in one capacity or another for the past year and half, and have learned that in order to fix any type of problem in the community you must find the root of the problem.

Therefore, I strongly believe that working with children and exposing them to positive changes during their formative years is crucial in making them productive adults for the future. I would like to continue working with children and families, as this group concerns me the most. In addition, I feel that young people at risk and elderly people without a voice are compatible. I believe that children generally speaking can benefit and learn a lot from being exposed to older and wiser people. I grew up loving and admiring older people in my family such as my grandmother. The sense of respect and wisdom gained from elderly people are very healthy for children. I would like to someday see more interest to be taken in bringing young and elderly people together, especially at-risk teens. By acknowledging and understanding the interconnected systems that affect these groups, I hope to make a difference in the lives of children, families and their surrounding environments.

During the time I was completing my undergraduate degree, I took a lot of time to reflect and self-assess my strengths and areas I would like to grow and improve upon. The area that I feel that has always been the most important for me and that I continue to always seek improvement is the Social Worker’s commitment to their Client. The client’s best interest should always come first, in spite of your own personal beliefs, society’s stigmatizations and in some cases the client’s own wants. Sometimes this has been the most challenging part of my work experience; therefore, I look to take courses during my masters program that can improve and strengthen my communication skills with my clients; especially when the right choice for a client may not be the most difficult choice.

Competence is a principle I value and always remember to use. I am aware that the class curriculum, field practice and prior work experience are all indicators of my abilities in social work practice. I am confident in my abilities in working with others and understand the importance of teamwork. Therefore, as I continue to work in the field and various social service agencies, I understand the importance in building a network of more experienced professionals in the field of social work, in order to be able to consult with them and learn different practices used in the field. An area that I look to further expand my skills is in techniques in interviewing the client. Because of my work experience, I am confident in working with disabled people and children on an individual and group basis, yet since my experience is limited, I feel I can further improve upon my interviewing skills through more education and field practice. Through various assignments in my previous courses and work experience, I have realized there are better ways of asking questions to get effective client feedback.

I continue to explore different interview methods and approaches when it comes to dealing with different clients. No matter how difficult the client or their circumstances, I am ready for the challenge. I currently work at the Mental Health Association of Essex County in Montclair New Jersey as a Recovery Counselor. At this agency we help mentally disabled adults and homeless at-risk teenagers integrate into independent living. We provide assistance with employment opportunities, with obtaining social security benefits, financial counseling and provide transportation to various support service agencies. In addition, we help our client’s secure permanent housing through state funding programs. My family is very supportive of my going to graduate school and they are willing to help and support in any way that they can. In retrospect, I always knew I was destined to choose a career path in public service, the most influential people in my upbringing service the public in one way or another.

My father is a 24 year veteran in the Newark Police Department, not only is he a sergeant but he has also served as a Deputy Mayor and City Council Member during his tenure. My mother has worked for the past 22 years in the Division of Welfare, specifically working with the women and children’s program. In addition, my step mother, brother and aunt serve as police officers for many years. After gaining some work experience in the field, the decision to further pursue a masters degree at the Rutgers University School of Social Work seemed like the natural next step to take in order to further enhance my career and skills. Once admitted to the masters program, my preference is to intern in a school setting in order to gain a more centralized experience in the area of guidance counselor and social work.

As a professional social worker with a masters degree from Rutgers University School of Social Work I see myself as an advocate within the school system, where I can work one-on-one with children as a guidance counselor or family social worker. I believe that furthering my education coupled with my passion for children is where I am best suited to affect the most change and make an impacting difference. In addition, being a successful Latina is important to me, by setting a positive role model for others younger that I to follow as an example to the community, specifically being able to communicate professionally not only in English but in Spanish as well. Rutgers School of Social Work has the best masters program in the area and I feel that they will provide me with the best credentials to be successful in the future as a social worker. Thank you for your consideration of my application.

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