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MSW, Social Work Masters, Haiti

March 13, 2013

With wisdom comes timing, a knowledge of the right moment when to act. It has always been my desire to make a difference to the lives of others. I believe that my experiences thus far have brought me to the pivotal point of making this dream a reality.  By enrolling in a Masters program in Social Work at the University of New England, I will be finally pursuing an academic qualification that would add excellence in knowledge and skill to the practical experience I have already gained in the field as a volunteer over many years.

Born and raised in Port-au-Prince, Haiti amidst much poverty and injustice, I was blessed by being afforded a life of privilege. Although I started volunteer work as a teenager tutoring children in the mountain regions of Haiti and spent most of my adult life contributing to various community-based social service programs, this academic milestone will create a platform that will allow me to exponentially increase my ability to help others, which is my greatest motivation.

Having both my parents involved in different capacities in the medical profession exposed me early on in life to the suffering of the sick, the poor and the dying.  My inspiration also came from two other extraordinary people: Paul Farmer, a devoted volunteer Physician who founded Partners in Health, a network of health clinics in Haiti and Pere Lanoo, a Belgian Priest at the Eglise Paroissiale de Saint Joseph who had a church clinic in the poorest slum of Haiti. Following the amazing examples of lives lived selflessly and with compassion for the poorest of the poor, achieving this qualification will provide me with the academic excellence I require to practice professionally in my capacity as a social worker and improve the lot of those I serve.

Life can be a great teacher. I learnt firsthand how devastating illness and sudden death can be and the empathy I feel for those who are suffering and in pain is based on experiences my own family endured. The coping skills I acquired and the compassion I have for those who are in need were birthed through my own struggles at the time of my father’s death and my sister’s illness which made me sensitive to the plight of other people, aware of the significance of lending a helping hand and committed to the process of investing my time and energy in programs that uplift families and reduce pain and suffering.

Coming to the United States in 1983 to study hotel management, even though my studies were impacted by the traumatic events I had experienced with my family, I was able to obtain my qualification albeit not with the excellence I could have achieved had circumstances been different. I relocated to Germany with my husband after graduating from Florida International University in 1988 and spent time living in both Germany and the United States.  

Having lived in three different countries and amongst diverse communities which are a tapestry of different cultures, and being widely travelled to many countries across continents, I was given an opportunity to develop a worldview that encompassed people from many nations. Being fluently multilingual as a result of living abroad and in the United States, I acquired exceptional communication and interpersonal skills which enabled me to relate to people from diverse cultural backgrounds; an asset in my chosen profession.

Having spent a significant portion of my adult life in the hospitality industry in various capacities, it would be fair to view this decision to enrol in a Social Work Program as being a change in career path. However, it does not represent a change in intent of heart and motivation. For most of my professional life, I gravitated towards situations that ended up helping people, that changed the quality of their experience of life. Whether a trainee at the Marriot Hotel, a real estate professional, a member of the tourism industry or the owner-manager of a shop in Germany, my focus has always been solution-orientated; the goal to help the person in front of me in whatever way I could, to the best of my ability.

The experience acquired during these years was invaluable as it gave me a perspective on humanity which allowed me to develop insight into families and cultures. This solidified a belief in me that all people have the right to live full lives without fear of poverty, pain and suffering. It also gave me a unique appreciation for what people universally value in their lives. It fostered in me a deep-rooted desire to become part of the community of health workers who tirelessly work amongst the poor and indigent to improve the quality of their lives.  I believe that when I achieve this qualification and practice as a social worker I will be able to add value to the lives of any community I practice in by serving them with compassion.

Although I spent many years as a volunteer in different capacities including the time spent mentoring children and youth with a migration background, my passion has always been to do more, to make a difference. The defining moment for me was the earthquake that struck Haiti at the beginning of this year. Watching the extent of the human suffering of the people in the country of my birth was overwhelming but it served to strengthen my resolve to embark on this course. Having researched the Masters program in Social Work for two years, the sheer magnitude of the devastation propelled me to seize the moment and apply to a program that would give me the academic background I required to pursue a career as a social worker.

My choice of the Masters program in Social Work at New England University was made because I required a program that included a commitment to academic excellence, which allowed me to relate to academics that were learned in their fields and interact with colleagues who were as motivated with a passion to help others. The University of New England Masters degree in Social Work holds particular appeal for me given its emphasis on social justice and diversity.  With my skill set and life experiences, I believe that I would also be able add value to the experience of other students by bringing strength and diversity to the Master of Social Work program. 

Working closely with people from different backgrounds as a volunteer, I realized that children and the youth were the most vulnerable in any society, especially those of an immigrant or disadvantaged background who faced obstacles and hurdles that I could help them overcome through simple programs that empowered them. I am convinced that this degree will not just give me the necessary skills and academic knowledge of the discipline but will provide me with a structured framework with which to practice as a social worker amongst immigrant communities in Germany and with children slaves or ‘Restaveks’ in Haiti.

At a personal level, being married with two teenage children, I feel that I am now ready to pursue this passion that I have had for a while to advance my education to the Masters level of study. My long-term goal is to work with Partners in Health in the rural community of Cange in Haiti to provide social services to the region and empower women farmers who have fought to earn a living through farming in difficult circumstances, against all odds. Determined and persevering as an individual, I know that I will be successful in addressing the poverty and injustice that plagues this community with compassion and an attitude of tolerance that is sensitive to the needs of diverse people groups.

I trust that you would afford me the opportunity to study at your institution as I believe that the Masters of Social Work program will equip me with the necessary skills and knowledge I require to achieve my goal. Dedicated to any task set before me and hardworking, I am convinced that I can succeed not just at this program but at my chosen field of social work; the passion I feel for those who are suffering through circumstances and injustice is the motivation for me to persevere with my studies because I believe that it is possible to make a difference to the quality of the lives of others and I would like to dedicate my life like countless others before me have done to this cause.

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