Looking Back

Wow I can’t believe that I am in my final year and only months away from having my MSW! Last year this time I was full of competing emotions. I was anxious, scared and excited. I think that I was mostly scared. I knew that coming to the School of Social Work would be totally different from what I was used to coming from the Business School at my prior University. I remember walking into orientation and just knowing that this is where I belonged. Everyone was so different and not afraid to express themselves. It seemed as everything was very natural. This was totally different from my 4 years in my prior program. There I found that we were always thinking about our next second. We were more uptight from our thoughts to the way we dress. I guess that is to be expected, but I have to say it was tiring.  So, coming here was like a breath of fresh air and for the first time I was not holding my breath.

Many ask me how did I go from being into business to pursuing social work and every time I tell the story I realize that I am where I have always wanted to be. After I graduated I went to work for a short while and then the company had some financial trouble. I started noticing a change in the higher-ups and it was every man for himself. Everyone was always scared that this day would be the day that they would hear the dreaded words, “laid-off.” This created a dog eat dog situation and people were throwing each other under the bus constantly. It was then and there that I realized this was not for me and it never would be. Soon I heard the dreaded words and I have to say I was upset for a second. But, then the words vacation came to mind and you would have thought I won the lottery. I packed a bag and I went to visit my extended family and that is when I realized that I needed a job that fulfilled me and the only way I could see that happening is by helping others.

When I got back from vacation I went everywhere trying to find a job with children and adolescents. I was on the internet night and day and I soon found my dream job on Facebook. There was a post for a job at Haven House Services working with troubled and at-risk youth. This was an Americorps position and there was only a small stipend, but I still wanted the job bad! To make a long story short…..I got the job and I LOVED IT! It was the most fulfilling experience of my life. Soon my year would be up and I would be jobless….I could have done one more year, but decided not to. I knew that I had found my purpose so all that was left to do was to go get my MSW (suggestion from my Director). Now I am here and the rest is history.

I will say that there was some criticism from my family and friends in the beginning. They all thought I was crazy to go from the so-called money train to the track of public service. But, I had to reassure them that money was the last thing on my mind. I always found myself explaining to them that happiness was my number one priority and I knew that corporate America would not give me that. At the end of the day I would rather wake up happy to be doing what I love than rich doing something I hate!


About Erica Mayes-Gordon

Hello everyone! My name is Erica Mayes-Gordon and I am what you would call a true Carolina girl.I am originally from Rock Hill, SC, but I was raised in a small town called Wendell here in NC. I received my undergraduate degree in Business Administration and my concentration was Marketing. After working in corporate America for about a year I realized that it was not for me and I began working with Americorps and Haven House Services. I loved it an realized that my passion is working with Children and Families., which led me here to the School of Social Work. I am a NC Child Welfare Collaborative Leadership Scholar and I am also in the Certificate of Substance Abuse Studies Program. In addition, I am the co-chair of the Black Student Caucus. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me. I look forward to hearing from you!
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