Welcome to the Student Ambassador Blog! This blog was created by current student Ambassadors of the UNC School of Social Work MSW programs for people like you: Prospective students interested in getting a glimpse of our Master of Social Work program from the student angle. Feel free to contact Student Ambassadors if you want to learn more!
The deep layer of dust that has gathered on the mantle suggests I’ve had more pressing priorities during this final semester. Before wiping it away forever I paused to engrave the date and my initials into these messy grains to mark the moment.
I hope each of my fellow graduates is pleasantly mindful of the symbols that attest to your many labors and will allow yourself the luxury to celebrate the seemingly insignificant signs that say “I made it!” And be sure to hug the ones who carried you to the finish line, for the very essence of our chosen profession reminds us that no one walks alone.
One of my final projects at my field placement with the Center for New North Carolinians (CNNC) was to coordinate a photo exhibit of Bhutanese refugee camps. Saturday, March 30, the CNNC held an open house for the community to view a photo exhibit demonstrating life for Bhutanese refugees in Nepal. The exhibit, “One Summer in Damak”, was put together from photos that were shot by students in Duke University’s Kenan Institute for Ethics (KIE).
Visitors from Greensboro came, as well as students from KIE and many Bhutanese refugees from Durham, Raleigh and Greensboro totaling roughly 120 attendees. It was a happy occasion and the atmosphere felt like a family reunion. A large number of the adults who came from Raleigh were senior citizens who rarely had the chance to attend events. They reminisced over the memories that the images evoked and Bhutanese children from the Triad quickly made friends with those from the Triangle, eager to “add” each other on Facebook. Two men recognized a friend in one of the photos. They realized that that particular camp was no longer in existence and that that friend was now resettled in New York.
The beauty of the day was in the fact that for a short time, the Bhutanese were the majority and the locals were the minority. For the day, they were free to dress, speak, and act comfortably in their native manner, a rare joy in their host country.
The rush of the final month is upon us now, as everyone is scrambling to put the finishing touches on this incredible journey in the MSW program. As a break from paper writing and presentation construction, I thought I would jot down some of my appreciations for recent happenings!
First, I am so appreciative of the professional development workshops and events that the program sponsors for my cohort. The aim of the professional development series is to prepare students for the successful transition to their professional careers outside of school. Such topics covered include, resume building, effective presentations, job interviewing, and many other various examples. Recently, the school invited two members from the North Carolina Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) board to give a talk to students about beginning the licensure process. It’s a wonderful privilege to be a part of a school that can have professional come give such valuable information about the licensure process within our state. Lastly, one of our faculty members will be providing students an opportunity to participate in a short LCSW prep course for the North Carolina licensing exam. The fact that the School of Social Work is able to surround students with knowledgeable faculty members and valuable professional development opportunities is a testament to the commitment to the future of social work.
Lastly, just as an update to my previous post about the military caucus’s service project of the semester…We were able to have an awareness day for a great non profit in North Carolina called Camp Corral. The aim of this non profit is to provide deserving children from military families the opportunity to have an incredible week at camp. As part of our awareness campaign, we handed out free coffee and brochures, invited students and faculty the opportunity to write a letter to a service member to express thanks for their service to our country. Overall, the small event went well and we had a great time doing it!
Until next time,
As graduation nears, I have come to the realization that I may not have very much time left here in the Triangle. Sure, I’m looking for jobs in the area, but my search has been pretty broad geographically. If I do end up moving away, that leaves me 6 weeks between now and graduation weekend. For this purpose, I am creating a Chapel Hill Bucket List. This is something I should have started on much sooner. For all of you potential Advanced Standing students : don’t let your time slip away! Earning a Masters degree in 1 year is one of the greatest things ever, but it’s also a very short time to live somewhere if you don’t stick around. Maybe my bucket list can give you somewhere to start.
- Campus Events. Being a grad student means you still get all the perks of being a student. UNC is bubbling with opportunities, many of which I will have significantly less access to after I graduate. For instance, last night I saw Iron and Wine for ten dollars at Grand Memorial Hall. For those of you who are familiar with this type of music, you know how exciting that is. I also recently went to see Raisin in the Sun performed on campus, which was beautifully done. When you’re here: check out the music, the plays, the sports-anything you have increased access to as a student.
- SSW Opportunities. There are always workshops, seminars, trainings, etc. happening in the School of Social Work. Some are topic based while others are tailored to practical skills needed in our next steps (resume building, negotiating salaries…those types of things). You may be tempted to go home and take a nap or keep working on that paper, but don’t let these events slip through your fingers! They’re specifically for you!
- The Beach! Whenever I talk to people who are from this area about WHY they love the Piedmont, I normally get some variation of the fact that it fits snuggly between the beach and the mountains. Guys. I’ve lived in North Carolina for almost five years, and I’ve never been to a North Carolina beach. Not only that, but I’ve lived 2 1/2 hours away from Wilmington since May and still have not been. This will absolutely change in the coming weeks.
- The Mountains! I’m a mountain girl at heart, but I still haven’t taken advantage of the fact that Chapel Hill is ALSO close to the Appalachians! Sure I’ve gone home (any of you from Tennessee?), but I haven’t taken the opportunity to go to the mountains for the weekend and just soak up the beauty. For those of you who enjoy Bluegrass, there’s a wonderful festival called MerleFest in Wilkseboro, NC that’s an easy drive, a beautiful location, and great music. Also on my Bucket List.
- Hidden Treasures. I know this last category is broad, but I find it to be the most difficult thing to cross off my bucket list. Why? Because they’re hidden! You know what I’m talking about. Those wonderful restaurants or tucked away hiking trails that only the “locals” know about. A couple weeks ago I went to a magical place called Maple View Farm. This is a dairy farm in Hillsborough that is probably a 10 minute drive from Chapel Hill. They have fresh ice cream, and rolling countryside you could just stare at all day long. You know. Those kinds of things.
And that, friends, is my bucket list. I’m sure it will become more specific as my weeks begin to pass more quickly. I’ll keep you posted.
Yet again, grad school at UNC has presented me with another great opportunity. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) had their lobby day today in Raleigh at the Legislative Building. It was a fantastic experience to be able to go with other students and talk to legislators about specific issues.
Lobby day kicks off with an information session. This session provides information about how and what to talk about with representatives. Afterwards, those who made appointments with their representatives were able to sit down with them and talk about a topic of their choice. Representatives are also used to being stopped in hallways in order for people to share information or ask questions about different bills. Additionally, there were committee and subcommittee meetings to attend. It was a unique way to learn about how bills get presented and passed.
Advocacy on all levels is important and it can be intimidating to go to Raleigh and put yourself “out there” to representatives. I am thankful that I had the opportunity to do this while I am a student because now, I feel I could do it again, this time representing the clients of whatever agency employs me after graduation.
Throughout the month of February, the Black Student Caucus hosted several events events. With the support of the Social Justice Caucus, the Black Student Caucus organized a field-trip to the International Civil Rights Center & Museum in Greensboro, NC. SSW students took a guided tour of the museum to learn more about the sit-in activities at the F.W. Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro in 1960, as well as NC statewide and national civil rights movements.
The Black Student Caucus recognized African American faculty and staff with an appreciation luncheon on February 25, in celebration of Black History Month.
One of the honored guests in attendance was former faculty member Hortense McClinton. In 1966, Mrs. McClinton became the first Black professor at UNC. She taught in the School of Social Work for 18 years.
Black Student Caucus members also decorated the lobby display case with African artifacts and information highlighting current African American/Black social workers and individuals fighting for social justice.
In addition to the aforementioned events, the Black Student Caucus hosted a documentary event, viewing the Brown Eyes/Blue Eyes experiment and an in-depth facilitated discussion;attended an Alvin Ailey Performance at Memorial Hall; and sent weekly emails highlighting African American history at UNC-CH including the first African American students, first African American professor, first African American student athlete, and the Sonya Hayes Stone Center.