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MSW Master of Social Work Degree Program

March 18, 2013

It is said that a life without purpose is a life without meaning. It is my experience that meaning is found in life through the most unlikely moments.  Sometimes, a cross that is picked up along the way, through circumstance or choice, represents an opportunity to discover the deeper meaning to a life of purpose.  Born and raised in Agra, India, before coming to the United States at the age of nine, I know that my purpose lies in helping others with their journey through life.

 Oprah Winfrey once said, “turn your wounds into wisdom”, with the understanding that “where there is no struggle, there is no strength”. My long-term goal of becoming a social worker rests on the inner strength I discovered through my own journey thus far in overcoming situations and circumstances in my life that were oftentimes beyond my control.  To advance the cause of women, especially those in minority communities, who bear an ever increasing burden from the diverse socio-cultural hurdles they face in families and society, is my ultimate aim.

 Having graduated with a degree in 2004 from the University of Cincinnati, I believe that it is the right time for me on both a personal and professional level to advance my studies to the Masters level, as the next step towards a career in social work. Selecting the Master of Social Work program at the University of Cincinnati as my optimum choice is a simple decision for me. With its stated mission of addressing the diverse problems found in communities through the training of professional social workers who are also equipped as leaders, it is the ideal place for me to be equipped with the academic knowledge and practical skills to excel in my field.

 On reviewing the different options I had in furthering my studies, what held appeal in this particular program was the academic excellence of Faculty staff, the determination and drive of students at the campus, the subject material focused on and the inculcation of the sense of social responsibility in staff and students alike.   It is my firm belief that over the course of the program I would be provided with the preparation I need to develop my potential to the fullest.

 I am especially interested in research in the area of families and children. Passionate about issues of social justice that impact the lives of the most vulnerable in our communities; the poor, the ill, children and the elderly, I realize that any form of sustainable change would require credible voices that speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. Someday, I would like to be involved in diversity training of social workers to help women and children from different socio-cultural backgrounds in a manner that respects their language, culture and traditions. 

 It is my intention to continue with my studies to the Doctoral level of study after which I would be truly effective as an activist of women’s and children’s rights especially in situations of abuse, armed with the academic knowledge and practical experience that my training would have offered me. Fluent in English, Hindi and Punjabi, I am able to relate to a cross-section of the population that struggle with access to existing programs and resources within communities because of language and cultural barriers. With the theoretical background I would receive through the program, I would be able to assist women, children and families in these communities to understand where and when help is available by building relationships of trust through a professional social work practice.

 As a humanitarian I feel great compassion for those who suffer needlessly when there is help available, due to either ignorance or fear; as a woman in a socio-cultural context, I understand the reality of how difficult it is for women to speak out in situations in which their welfare is compromised. Offering support in a small way can make the greatest difference to the lives of those who don’t have much or see a way out.  The motivation I have for helping others is the driving force in my life. I would also like to improve the world my son grows up in; as his role model, in advancing the lot of others, I can impart to him a sense of responsibility for others and a passion for social justice that I feel.

 The greatest contribution I can make with my life is to help women and children who are not born to privilege or who live with the disadvantage of poverty, abuse or illness. The empathy I feel for others is real. In the land of my birth, some women are still burnt alive because of the lack of a dowry, water is a luxury in some areas and in others; women and children have little recourse to justice or welfare where there is abuse or alcoholism. Having experienced firsthand the challenge of a failed arranged marriage even though I was living in the United States, I recognize how fortunate I was to have been allowed to pursue my life choices whilst elsewhere in the world women in a similar situation as me would have had fewer or no choices.

 My experiences left me with the understanding that empowering women through literacy programs that assist them improve their living standards, is the greatest way to achieve the development of their self-esteem. To break the cycle of abuse, women have to know where their strength lies, be supported in their refusal to be apportioned the blame for being abused and encouraged in raising their voices in situations where silence and fear dominate. Abuse occurs irrespective of cultural, traditional or religious beliefs. Speaking the truth from a professional platform while being armed with community resources to assist families and children through the whole process, lends authenticity to the empathy expressed by social workers who work in this field.

 Having traveled within the United States and abroad and lived in two very different countries and cultures, I have come to see the universality of human suffering. What keeps me rooted and what will anchor my son, is the gratitude I feel for having been given the chance to overcome the difficulties I faced. Living in a society in which we have become accustomed to accessibility and availability of resources can mask the reality of the many who do not have the basics with which to sustain quality of life. Their lives serve as a constant reminder to me of the “shoes I could have been walking in”. This only strengthens my resolve to study further, work hard and give back to others in my community, especially the most vulnerable.

 I am always reminded of the fact that “I have been there” – it is almost ironic that I am writing a personal statement of purpose for admission to the same program in the same school as I did exactly six years ago when my life took a detour due to circumstances, somewhat beyond my control. Single then, strong and in high spirits, I was ready to go out and save all the ‘unfortunate’ women and children living in the vicious cycle of substance abuse and violence because of a lack of knowledge, by empowering them. My plan then was to enable these women to become mentally, financially and emotionally competent enough to gain the confidence to resume their desire to be educated and work and live healthy and happy lives with their children.

 That was six years ago: it feels like I have lived a lifetime in between these two applications. My desire and passion to help women, children and families has not abated, but rather my commitment has increased. What has changed is that I now understand what it would take to break the cycle, why it is so hard to act with self-protection the second you realize that you are in a risky situation, why it becomes harder to leave the longer you stay and why a little support is all that is needed to help anyone take the final leap.  

 Even though my previous application to this Masters program was accepted, I was unable to pursue this journey then. Simply put, life intervened: an arranged marriage through a friend consistent with my culture saw me leave my family, friends, a great job and dreams for North Carolina as the wife of a man I barely knew. Although it just took a few weeks for the regret to set in, the cultural traditions held by my family would not allow me to leave a situation where my spouse’s alcohol use and abuse negatively impacted my quality of life, setting up years of a cycle that saw my feeling of helplessness grow. The birth of my son almost sealed my fate to becoming a statistic in a life so far removed from everything I had ever wanted or known; it took me six years to gather up the strength to leave. Even though I am still not divorced, I could breathe again, live again just by leaving the situation.

 The past six years, more than anything, has ignited the passion I feel to advance the cause of minority women in society. Completing my Masters and Doctoral degree in Social Work would give a boost to the vision I have to see every woman caught in the cycle of abuse being given the chance to become independent, successful and happy. As a professional therapist, prepared with the core knowledge and methodology of counseling, equipped with the skills to relate to children and families with a wide range of needs and armed with a resource list of accessible and available social welfare organizations, private and public, I would be committed to offering the support needed specific to every situation.

Providing training to organizations that rely on community volunteers will allow the services to be available to diverse cultures and religions. I want to be part of that simple solution. My strongest asset as a social worker is my broadened worldview, bilingualism and socio-cultural background which allow me the sensitivity to relate to women, children and families at the point of their need with empathy and compassion. I do belief that “knowledge is key” and am committed to providing women, children and families with the information they need to leave situations of abuse in a safe and secure manner to better their lives.

 I am grateful to those who contributed to my growth as a person into the confident person I now am; the family and friends who through exposing me to different cultures gave me the opportunity to see the possibilities life offered and those who stood with me with courage in facing the most difficult challenge I have had to deal with. It is this broadened worldview that infused me with hope in difficult circumstances and forged a path that saw me eventually break free. I am passionate about offering this chance to other women, children and families by consistently being a support, counseling and mediating and problem-solving together with them.

I am determined that my son will grow up in a better world in which all women, children and families have the chance to live free of abuse. As a professional social worker, I would be living out my dream of helping others. If I have learnt anything in the past few years, it is that you take one step at a time. The next step in this career path is to complete the Masters level of study in Social Work. I believe I am an ideal candidate for this Program as I have the empathy and compassion to be an ethical, efficient professional social worker, am hardworking, committed and dedicated to contribute and add value to the program itself, especially working with like-minded individuals who will qualify with me as colleagues and I am passionate about researching further the subject of assisting women and children’s with social welfare needs, especially those from diverse socio-cultural backgrounds. I trust that you afford me this opportunity.

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