Riaz Clark on Social Work, Core, and the Upside-Down Curriculum
Riaz Clark, '21
Education & Human Studies
Ann Arbor, MI
Family Programming Activities at the YMCA in Burlington, VT
Champlain doesn't preach about preparing you for your future, it just does it.
What has been your experience in the Social Work major?
I love it. I love that it's a very small, tight-knit group of people. We have our group chats, and we're always looking out for each other. If one of us isn't in class, we're on it, making sure they're OK. It's because we're Social Workers; we're built to do that.
Has the Upside-Down Curriculum enhanced your education?
Oh, 100%. What stuck out to me when I took my first tour at Champlain was that it doesn't believe in standardized testing. As someone with two learning disabilities, I don't learn very well through text and reading. And, it was incredible that during the second semester of my first year, I was able to start volunteering at the YMCA, and now I have a job there. At a traditional school, with a traditional curriculum, I wouldn't be doing that until my junior year.
Do you have a favorite Core class?
I was in a class called Bodies: Radical Awakening with Faith Yacubian. I just love Faith. She makes sure that everyone gets what they need. The class was based off that, about radically understanding your body. She told us in class, "If your body is telling you that you need to get up and that you need to do something, you need to listen to it." It was really interesting to learn how to listen to what your body needs.
Absa Samba on Global Education, Empowering Women & Girls, and Getting Involved on Campus
Absa Samba, '20
Education & Human Studies
The Gambia, West Africa
Women's Program Intern at Vermont Works for Women in Burlington, VT
Being able to do what I want from the beginning gives me enough time to prepare for my future profession. I'm building the skills I need to become the person I want to be.
What was your experience coming to Champlain as an international student?
When you first come here [as an international student], you have a week-long Orientation, during which you get to know more about the school, and you go out and do things in Burlington. During the semester, you meet other international students and engage in activities that bring everyone together in a community on campus. I didn't know how it would feel to come here, but I love it.
How did you choose your Social Work major?
I am very passionate about empowering women and girls, especially coming from The Gambia, where women are less educated and not often involved in decision making. I started working with nongovernmental organizations that are involved with supporting girls' education and women's rights before coming here, and for the first time, I am able to do what I love, which is social work. I'm building the skills I need to become the person I want to be.
Are you involved with any organizations on campus?
I love being in the Women's & Gender Center. It provides a safe space for me, and I know I can go there and get the support I need. You meet many students who are hanging out, doing assignments, having conversations, playing games... When there are activities going on, you're always welcome to participate. That's why I love being here.