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MSW Autobiography, African-American Woman

August 15, 2015

The original foundation of my desire to become a licensed social work professional with the MSW is the fact that I am an African-American woman who grew up in inner city America, in my case Brooklyn, and was subjected to many of the social ills that are so very common among predominantly black communities in our inner cities: neglected, abused, mistreated, abandoned—much if not most of this due to the substance abuse of those around me. This goes a long way to explain why I have given my very best for more than 10 years now to be the most effective substance abuse counselor that I can be. I now feel that I have the maturity and experience that is only matched by my level of enthusiasm, with all of them together empowering me to excel in your program at XXU.

My greatest strength as a social worker is and will always be my own experience of survival of the abuse that I endured growing up in an environment plagued by rampant alcohol and drug abuse—the neighborhood where I played and through which I walked on my way to school. Having personally suffered for much of my life—not from my own substance abuse thank God—but from the substance abuse of family, friends, etc., mostly alcohol but other drugs as well; this has given me the strength to fight the evil with the power of the Lord by my side. I have long cultivated the wisdom to recognize the harm caused by substance abuse, especially to children and young adults—along with the tranquility to stop thinking about it for a while in my free time so that I can also help my family and friends along the way. Being a good mother has always been my special solice and continues to this day to charge up my batteries so that I always have enough energy to give my all professionally to my clients.

Thus, I feel like the first two decades of my life were the ultimate preparation for becoming a cutting-edge substance abuse counselor for the balance of my life, with greater responsibility and the chance to make the most significant contribution possible. I am very proud that I have now given 10 years to my field, substance abuse counseling, and I feel strongly that I am now at an optimal position to excel in your Master’s of Social Work Program at XXXX University because I have the understanding that can only come from living and touching the lives of those who suffer for an extended period of time.

XXU is my first choice for graduate school for a variety of reasons foremost of which is your priority emphasis on advancing social justice. As an African-American woman who was raised in an unstable home in a very troubled community with high crime levels, I have always been sensitive to the plight of my people, black people, and the troubles that afflict their communities or ghettos. Throughout my entire life I could not help but feel a victim of injustice, segregation, preferential law enforcement, coupled to what I perceived to be a general insensitivity on the part of our society concerning this injustice. I feel very strongly that our society is incarcerating way too many sick people who should be getting medical care instead of jail time. Changing this situation will require the collaboration of a broad range of professionals; and the professional social worker must share this responsibility of making our society more just and helping the victims, especially those who are sick. As an African-American woman, I am also deeply disturbed that my race is radically overrepresented among those sick people who are homeless or incarcerated because of their illness—drug addiction. Along with a growing number of people in America, I feel that substance abuse should be treated as a public health issue rather than a criminal one.

Serving the community has always been my special passion, dedicating my life to improving the lives of others. For the past ten years, I have worked as Substance Abuse Counselor in a correctional setting for men and women and with outpatient program services focused on Gender Responsive Therapeutic Community. My job entails facilitating groups, helping to find suitable housing for female parolees and their dependent children, and providing extensive individual counseling.

Earning the MSW will provide me with the opportunity to facilitate family counseling, anger management, relapse prevention, and various other types of services with a special focus on childcare, child development, parenting training, vocational training and HIV awareness. Since relocating to XXXX County, I have also excelled as a volunteer at XXXX House. The XXXX House is a Gender Responsive, Trauma-Informed, Therapeutic Community Program that provides substance abuse treatment and housing to female parolees and their dependent children in XXXX County. I also joined a women’s social association with a focus on community involvement. I continue to discover a voice that I did not know that I had.  Using this voice to seek equal rights for individuals to help make social service more culturally and linguistically sensitive and appropriate is an issue in which I find myself increasingly engaged and look forward to exploring more fully as a student in your program

My mother died suddenly in front of my eyes when I was still a child, with 5 little sisters and brothers to care for. We were all shipped around amongst relatives none of whom wanted us. As the oldest, I bore the brunt of the bickering, neglect, and violence. I had a very hard time adjusting and often found myself either in the principal’s office or on punishment at home. I had this ball of anger inside of me. After being repeatedly suspended from one school, I would be shipped to another relative to attend school somewhere else.

During my senior year at XXXX High School in California, I came in contact with a counselor named Ms. XXXX who empowered me by her kindness and authenticity. I promptly adopted her as a role model and decided then and there to become a social worker and help people like Ms. XXXX. I was really behind in credits and Ms. XXXX had me enroll at XXXX Polytechnic High School from 8:00 am to 11:00am to take three classes to earn extra credit, then I was to come back to McLane to complete the rest of my day as well as attending Fresno adult school from 5pm to 8 pm with extra tutoring on Saturdays. Also during my senior year I became pregnant with my daughter XXXX. She soon became another great motivation and my driving factor to finish high school. Ms. XXXX supported me in my pregnancy as well and gave me direction. All it took was one person to take an interest in a person to change that person’s course in life. Ms. XXXX will always be with me.

By looking back with the value of hindsight upon my own path in life and my personal and professional growth, I increasingly understand more fully know where my future leads and perhaps most importantly, how that came to be the case, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. One of the proudest accomplishments of my life was earning my college degree, despite the odds that had been stacked against me from the beginning. I presently hold a Certificate of Completion in Drug and Alcohol Counseling from Fresno City College accompanied by 3 AA Degrees in the areas of Psychology, Social Sciences, Interdisciplinary Studies, and Teacher Education. I am currently completing my Bachelor’s of Social Science Degree (BASS) at XXU. My education and professional goals correlate with my social work mission, committed to social justice and social change. Completing your distinguished MSW program will be the crowning achievement of my life and struggle so far, empowering me to think creatively and independently about social , political, and economic structures and their impact, empowering me to work on the cutting edge of social work practice with individuals , families, and most importantly the community

I thank you for considering my application.

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