My mother told me stories about them growing up in poverty in the Ecuadorean Andes, and how much she loved him. When I was fifteen, I met my uncle for the first time. I was so frightened that he would try to kill me because of what I saw in western media about people who suffer from mental illness, such as in movies or literature. He, however, spoke to me with such enthusiasm and finesse about politics and science that I was left in awe. My prejudices and preconceived notions had all been proven to be wrong by this one man. He would even be able to relay that my struggle with cancer at eight years old was due to a predisposition to the abnormalities of calcium within my body.
I choose to follow in this field because I want to help other people. I have this immense measure of gratitude and love towards my uncle, and it has made me realize that I also have the compassion, patience, and understanding, to help others who are struggling with similarities to that of his. It’s because I was able to witness it with my very eyes. I saw how the illness deteriorates each crevice of the mind. They take homes, they take their professions and sometimes the only way to escape it would be through illicit drugs. I saw it everyday in the homeless population in the city I grew up in.
I still see it. 20-25% of the homeless population suffers from some form of mental illness. When I’ve seen them, and conversed with them, their faces have lit up. I’ve never felt a communal connection with any stranger, but my uncle made it happen. I feel like a part of my heart will always be strung close to my uncle’s. He taught me to have compassion, empathy and understanding in a world so quick to point out a hamartia of the mentally ill.
My interest involving social worker has to do with that of branching out into different settings. I find social workers in hospitals, schools, community health agencies, and even international organizations. As of now, I’m interested in becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. I am both fluent in Spanish and English. In Connecticut, there is an influx of immigrants that need assistance, however the language barrier plays a role in preventing them from getting help. I want to give a voice to the voiceless. I find that it is rather difficult to work with people that do not understand what they are saying. I hope to be something of a source of help, to give a voice for someone who is in need.
Throughout my academic career I have tried to prepare myself to become a social worker. I volunteered in empowering underperforming high school students within local public schools. I was a mentor at Future 5; showing students the beauty of attending college. I believe that a social worker requires special skills, such as compassion and respect for all different social and economic backgrounds. I will have tools that will help me strive to understand different individuals, and their day-to-day lives.
My personal battle with depression is often something I keep in silence. I struggled with being bullied throughout middle school that I had to transfer schools. I had low-self esteem and found it very difficult to trust people. A school social worker helped bring me out my shell and regain some confidence in highschool. That school social worker shaped me to become who I am today.
Our house is in the process of being foreclosed on. I am the first in my family to finish college, let alone getting a degree in the United States. I was born to Ecuadorian immigrants. They never helped me with any of my homework growing up and I learned that I had to do it on my own. I value an education. I value hard work. I am not your typical girl. I struggle to make ends meet. I do not tell friends this because at times, I feel embarrassed.
However, I know I have the opportunity to be shaped and molded into this great helper for the mentally ill or a social advocate to the disadvantaged. I have faith. If you can give me an opportunity, I can show you. I just need a chance. I have the intellect, compassion, and understanding of what it takes to be a social worker. I’ve felt heartache and loss. I’ve seen the beauty of helping others. I’ve seen it in my volunteer work and how moving it was to talk to someone and actually hear what they have to say. There was so much power in that simple act. I’ve grown a whole lot. I’ve succeeded in helping myself understand social work through my volunteer experience. I just want a chance. I want a chance to help others. I do not want money to be the reason why I could never achieve my dream. I am compassionate and caring. I have learned so much throughout the years about society and about myself. I want to make a difference in the world. This money is one step closer to that dream. Please don’t take that away from me.