What Does Social Work Mean to You and What Specific Branch of Social Work are You Particularly Interested in?
Since my childhood, I have been interested in the framework of a given society: how it operates. Through history and sociology classes in high school, I gained a deeper interest in this aspect of sociology. When I entered The Evergreen State College, I also took psychology courses, learned more about the interaction of people in social groups around the world, as well as the inner conflicts that everyone of us encounters, and ways of dealing with them. Later, at Seattle University, I decided to expand my interests beyond psychology and took a class called Social Work: An Introduction to the Ethics and History of Development. I later came to think of this decision as a revolutionary step that turned my attention to what I now am determined to make a calling, and a profession, for a lifetime.
Social work is diverse, since there are many groups of clients with their individual needs, issues, and hardships. Sure, there are basics and principles that any social worker puts into the foundation of their work. However, through what I have already learned about social work, I also realize that as a practical discipline, social work is about the particular and specific experience of working with a certain group of clients. For me, the branch of social work to which I would like to dedicate myself fully is working with the elderly. It may seem surprising, since some may think that the problems that elderly people are facing are rather typical and not so serious compared to what people living with AIDS, or children born with terminal diseases, or people facing cancer are going through. However, I strongly disagree. Issues of the elderly may be typical, and somewhat universal, but it does not in any way lessen their importance, or give objective reasoning to discount their problems.
Being an elderly person in the USA might not be as challenging as it is in Africa, or Kazakhstan, for example. Yes, we do have decent quality medical services and social security programs. Nevertheless, people tend to underrate, or close their eyes to many issues that individuals face when getting older. Elderly persons have to give up their job, which completely changes the lifestyle they have been used to for much of their lives. Feeling neglected, useless, and inactive in community life causes many elderly people to face depression after retirement—not forgetting the numerous health problems and psychological changes that everyone faces when getting old.
It is great if one has a supportive, caring family, friends, and an engrossing hobby with which to occupy oneself to help reevaluate one’s life and find a new purpose. And of course, the financial side of the issue is always not to be neglected. Overall, I believe that the elderly deserve just as much attention in terms of social work practice as any other suppressed and discriminated group does. I would love to work with the elderly as a social work specialist to implement and introduce innovative models and methods of social work with the elderly, based on the psychological and the sociological notions I studied at Seattle University, and plan to study more about, during a graduate program. I have lots of ideas which I am determined to develop in relation to social work with the elderly. For example, I want to each elderly client that I work with to gain a sense of leadership, teaching them to become natural leaders. But most importantly, I have a strong desire to help people that deserve our attention, respect, and care, since they contributed so much to American society, and deserve to be appreciated.
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Writing a Personal Statement
Social work is full of strong, capable, intelligent women with a great sense of purpose. Here are just a few of the women we admire from the field.
Medha Patkar is a social reformer who became a politician. Born in Mumbai, Patkar had a keen interest in public service at a very early age.
As the daughter of a trade union leader, Patkar started understanding the problems faced by the underprivileged and felt the need to serve them. Her father took active part in the Indian Independence Movement; her mother was a member of Swadar, an organization formed to assist and support women who are financially underprivileged get educated.
Patkar has an MA in Social Work from Tata Institute of Social Science. She left her position at the faculty as well as her unfinished PhD when she became involved in the tribal and peasant communities in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat.
Patkar is best recognized as the founding member of the famous Narmada Bachao Andolan – a movement to save the rivers and people of Gujarat. As a candidate of Aam Aadmi Party in 2014, she received 8.9 percent of votes; she resigned from Aam Aadmi Party’s primary member on March 28, 2015.
Mother Teresa, as she was commonly known, was a Roman Catholic religious missionary and sister. She was born in Macedonia in 1910, and after living in Yugoslavia for about 30 years, she moved to India and devoted her entire life in social work.
Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic congregation, which is active in 133 countries. The Missionaries of Charity still run homes and hospices for people with leprosy, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS; mobile clinics and dispensaries; soup kitchens; orphanages; schools; and children and family counseling programs.
Mother Teresa devoted her life to provide: “wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor”. She was honored with 1979 Nobel Peace Prize, and was also recognized as a saint by the Catholic Church.
Marie Woolfolk Taylor
Marie Woolfolk Taylor (December 18, 1893 - November 9, 1960) was one of the sixteen founders of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated: the first sorority founded by African-American women, ever.
The legacy Woolfolk Taylor created in establishing the sorority has continued to generate social capital for almost 100 years.
Woolfolk Taylor did post-graduate study in the new field of social work, and returned to Atlanta to start her career. She worked as a social worker and probation officer, and chaired numerous civic groups, readily handling financial responsibilities; she was on the board of directors of a range of charities, and considered herself mostly a social worker: but she also worked as an educator at night school.
With her commitment to community service and strong leadership in activities in a segregated city, Woolfolk Taylor demonstrated how sororities could help women “prepare to create spheres of influence, authority and power within institutions that traditionally have allowed African Americans and women little formal authority and real power”.
A graduate of what is now the Columbia School of Social Work, Jeannette Rankin, an advocate of women’s suffrage and a lifelong pacifist, was the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress. Her first act as a congresswoman was to introduce a suffrage amendment on the House floor. The amendment was passed about a year later. She was also the only member of Congress to vote against entering World Wars I and II.
These women are or were doing their thing regardless of their own circumstances, the political situation in their countries, or wherever they chose to go good and effect change. We’d love to support you if you’re headed in the same direction. Let us know how we can help you through our services.