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.
Champlain's focus on volunteer work drew Andrea to her Social Work major...
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.
Andrea's class projects and volunteer placements gave her new insights on how she could help her community...
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.
Champlain gave Andrea the skills she needed to enter her field...
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
Katherine has been able to shape her Social Work major to her interests...
What I like most about Champlain is that I feel I can mold my college experience into the areas of interest that best suit me. There are so many topics I want to learn about, and I feel Champlain does an excellent job of letting students pursue their passions. For example, I recently approached my advisor and told her about my wish to volunteer with a particular population, and by the end of the conversation I had a program to contact and was able to get college credit for my volunteer work.
Katherine's internships have led to professional opportunities...
I have had the opportunity to work in a field placement my second semester of college at the Converse Home, an assisted living community. I volunteered twice a week assisting in their American Sign Language class, exercises and running bocce. The experience went so well that I ended up getting hired by the Converse Home as an Activities Life Coordinator, a position I will have the rest of my time in college. This has allowed me to build my résumé and gain valuable skills pertinent to my field.
Katherine created a club that gives back to the Burlington community...
As part of my work-study with the Education & Human Studies (EHS) office, I created the Knitting for Good club and have been running it ever since. Knitters get together once a week to make sweaters, hats, gloves and more for those in need around the greater Burlington area. Not only is it a great way to help out the community, but it's fun to get to know people in the club, and it provides a nice, stress-free atmosphere in the middle of a busy week.
Katherine's advice to incoming students is...
Take advantage of the programs Champlain offers. Go outside your comfort zone and interact with the Burlington community; half of your learning and growth in college will take place outside of the classroom, so seize those experiences.
Katherine, Social WorkBedford, NHDIVISION OF EDUCATION & HUMAN STUDIES
After graduation, Shelby went on to receive her masters degree in Social Work. Now, she is a Social Worker for Maine General Health in Portland, Maine.
Champlain's Upside-Down Curriculum helped Shelby find the two majors that were right for her starting in her first year...
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.
Shelby's many volunteer placements and internships have enhanced her résumé, and her skills...
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
After graduation, David went on to receive his masters in Social Work. After leaving school, he started his own nonprofit: the Lorain County LQBTQ+ and Allies task force. Now, he is a Program Associate at the Community Foundation of Lorain County.
Studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland helped David hone his interests...
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.
David's internship and volunteer experiences gave him the skills he needed to enter his field...
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, Social Work MajorBay Village, OHStudied abroad in Dublin, IrelandDIVISION OF EDUCATION & HUMAN STUDIES