AFTER CHAMPLAIN, Andrea began pursuing her master's degree in Social Work at University College Dublin in Dublin, Ireland and started working as a Personal Support Worker at St. Margaret's Centre, Dublin, Ireland.
I knew I wanted to help people, and volunteer work is an ingrained part of Champlain's Social Work curriculum. It sounds daunting, but the experience is eye-opening in the most amazing of ways.
During my first semester, I had a project on homelessness, housing and food insecurity. I went to the Salvation Army, received food and sat with the people of the community who struggled with feeding themselves and their families. I had to experience it as if I were unable to fend for myself. It was not only a humbling moment but also an extremely valuable lesson.
Because of a semester-long volunteer placement, I was offered a summer position at the Converse home, a local assisted living home for the elderly. You can learn about theory and about the human experience in a classroom, but to be out there with real people is where the lessons are truly exposed.
When I leave Champlain, I will have learned more than I ever thought possible and will be ready for the world beyond college. Champlain helped me realize my passions, goals and all the opportunities that lay before me. I know I want to go to graduate school at some point, but I also have a strong desire to enter the Peace Corps. I know I cannot save the world, but if I can help at least one person, that's a start.
Andrea, Social Work MajorScarborough, MEDIVISION OF EDUCATION & HUMAN STUDIES
Absa's experience as an international student...When you first come here [as an international student], you have a week-long orientation where you get to know more about the school and you go out and do things in Vermont and Burlington especially. You meet other international students and engage in activities during the semester that bring the international students together in a community on campus. I didn't know how it would feel to come here, but I love it.
She was able to start her major classes right away.When I came here, I said "I want to do social work," and that's exactly what I started doing from the get-go. Within the first semester that I was here, I was able to go out and do internships. The fact that I was able to do what I wanted from the start helped me understand that Social Work is the right fit for me. If I hadn't liked it, I could have switched my major to something else but it's definitely the right fit.
Absa is pursuing her passion.I am very passionate about the empowerment of women and girls, especially coming from The Gambia where women are less educated and not often involved in decision-making. I started working with non-governmental organizations (NGO) that are involved with supporting girls' education and women's rights; then I came 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.
She is also a student ambassador for the Women's & Gender Center.I love being in the Women's & Gender Center, and that's why I decided to be an ambassador. The Women's & Gender Center provides a safe space for me, and I know I can go there and get the support I need. When you go there, you meet many students who are hanging out, doing assignments, having conversations, playing games... Sometimes there are activities going on, and you're always welcome to participate. That's why I love being there.
Absa loves the opportunity to get involved on campus.I am a member of the African and Caribbean Student Association; a member of Shades of Me, which is the women of color's affinity group on campus; and I am a member of the Cultural Community Alliance. With the African and Caribbean Student Association, we have weekly meetings where we watch and discuss movies, talk about our experiences, and serve as a support to each other. In Shades of Me, we are providing a community for women of color on campus. I also go to the Office of Diversity & Inclusion. As a minority student, I go there because I have other students like me who I can relate with, and I love the fact that I can go there and be with them.
On professors...I love my professors, and I love that I can walk up to them and tell them what I want and what I think and whether I'm comfortable in my classes. They are always welcoming to me and open and eager to hear what I am doing, how I feel, and if there's anything they can do to make it better. They are very eager to support you.
In the future...When I graduate, I want to work with programs that support and empower women and girls' rights, especially to education. I am also excited to work on any issues that are geared towards social justice for all. I believe that being here helps me to work with people of diverse backgrounds, and the fact that I have that opportunity will prepare me for the wider world. Being able to do what I want from the beginning gives me enough time to prepare for my future profession.
Absa, Social Work majorThe Gambia, West AfricaDIVISION OF EDUCATION & HUMAN STUDIES
When I was in high school, I was a camp counselor at Camp Wilmot in New Hampshire. They had a week of summer camp for people with mental delays and varying levels of physical mobility. I loved what I was doing and I decided I wanted to major in psychology. When I came to Champlain, I took Applied Psychology, which talked about what we could do with our degree. We had a guest speaker who said the quickest/best way to become a clinical psychologist or counselor was to study social work at the undergraduate level. So I started questioning if I could double major and I met with my advisors. Now I'm on a five-year program, double-majoring in Psychology and Social Work.
Social Work teaches more practical skills while Psychology teaches more theoretical knowledge. I appreciate the balance of the two and I feel incredibly supported by my faculty. I have a competitive advantage because I have truly had, so far, four years of human service experience and six student placements. I think students at other schools are only expected to have an internship for one semester. At Champlain, students are expected to engage in service learning classes, student placements and internships throughout their entire career. I hear so often that experience is what is truly important. Some employers will hire someone with a lower degree because they had more experience than other candidates. I will have both when I am done at Champlain.
Shelby, Psychology & Social Work Double MajorClinton, MADIVISION OF EDUCATION & HUMAN STUDIES
During my junior year, I studied abroad at Champlain's Dublin campus. As a social work student, I feel very fortunate to have been able to expand my cultural understanding, which is an important aspect of the profession. I was amazed by how accomplished my professors were and the small class sizes allowed for me to get to know them well. In fact, it was their stories of their work in the UN and the guest speakers they brought in (including the ambassador to Taiwan and one of the founders of the UN Women group) that has inspired me to go into community practice social work to influence and advocate for policy that is fair and just for all.
While abroad, I interned with the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee where I provided individual assistance to teenage asylum seeking orphans in a life skills and math class and helped to teach the classes. I also had the opportunity to participate in a study buddy program that paired Champlain students with refugee teenagers to assist them with their high school homework. I worked one-to-one with a girl from Kenya helping her with her English homework, which was a rewarding experience in that I was able to see when something clicked for her and she became more enthusiastic in her writing.
David is currently attending Case Western Reserve University, pursuing his Master of Social Work.David, Social Work MajorBay Village, OHDIVISION OF EDUCATION & HUMAN STUDIES
Before attending Champlain, Wilson worked in Guatemala for Safe Passage, a nonprofit that helps impoverished families in Guatemala City. "My work in Guatemala really sparked my passion for traveling and helping others. My experiences there have been the greatest inspiration of my life. I knew I wanted to devote my life to helping others, but I wasn't sure how."
"Studying social work has made me realize what my goals are in life. It has really encouraged my passion for helping others. I also feel like I've gotten a true sense of what social work looks like. My teachers have experience in their field, and they bring real-life experiences to their teaching. Champlain has really made me realize my potential and has focused my skills and passion into a field that I am very excited about."
After graduation, Wilson plans to join the Peace Corps and then return to Guatemala to work with the social workers of Safe Passage.
Wilson, Social Work majorYarmouth, MEDIVISON OF EDUCATION & HUMAN STUDIES
I picked Champlain because of the Social Work program. I've wanted to be a social worker since middle school. I saw a social worker every week in middle school, and we had a really great connection. She told me I had a natural gift for talking to people and listening and that I should look into social work as a career.
When I was looking at schools, I stumbled across Champlain. After visiting the school, I knew this was the school I wanted to go to. I applied Early Decision, and here I am.
The program has been absolutely fabulous. We do field trips and a lot of hands-on learning, and my interactions with people have become more genuine because of my Social Work classes. I now know what to do when people ask for advice. During my field placement in the Integrated Arts Academy, I could feel myself knowing what to say in certain situations.
Knowing that I will graduate with a yearlong internship, on top of a Bachelor of Social Work degree, I feel prepared for the real world.
Caitlin, Social Work MajorMilford, CTDIVISION OF EDUCATION & HUMAN STUDIES