Student or Learner
Going through different life experiences, has made me the person I am today. I have dealt with adversity in both positive and negative ways. I have continued to use the positive coping skills and learned to do away with the negative ones. This class has allowed me to write about some of those experiences and will help me answer the question, “What am I currently bringing to my role as a pre-professional social worker?” I will use the papers I have written along with my other life experiences to answer this question. My strength’s as a pre-professional social worker are my, self-confidence, focus, passion, protective instincts, beliefs, experience, and perseverance. My liabilities or weakness’s are my, fear, doubt, frustrations, burn-out, and being stagnant. I will discuss how I will use my strength’s and how I will combat my weakness’s to be the best pre-professional social worker I can be.
First, I will share about my greatest influence. I was in my early twenties and just recently ended my career in the military. I moved to Indiana and was away from my family. I was full of fear and doubt. I had no direction either. I started to attend a local church and met a man named Denny Howard. He was an elder in the church and agreed to meet with me concerning my problems of fear doubt. Denny told me his story and how he had obstacles in his life. He would listen to me share about my fears of the future and what I should do with my life. After, we met many times Denny sat me down and told me, “Pat, I never gave you anything, I just helped you see (faith, hope, and courage) what was already in your soul.” Denny helped build self-confidence in me. I used that confidence to expel the fear and doubt that was previously in my heart.
Next, I will explain my defining moment. I was working for a cleaning business. I was on a roof cleaning gutters. It was a very dangerous job. My boss had just recently broken his neck performing the same task. I was frustrated because he was asking me to perform such a dangerous task, especially when I had no previous experience in this area. I eventually realized, if I did not pursue an education I may end up becoming injured like my boss was. I used my strength of focusing to go back to school. I worked part-time and attended school part-time. I eventually completed all of my general courses so that I could focus on a more specific area of education.
Now, I will share the reason why I chose to study the social sciences. I eventually obtained a career working with troubled adolescents at a secure facility in Muncie, Indiana. After working there for a short time, I realized that working with people was my new passion. I looked into the different areas of study at the community college I was attending because I had already completed all my general courses. When I looked at the area of social work, I knew what degree I wanted to pursue. I was given an award for hardest worker and best team player. I do the work of two staff and was always ready to serve in some capacity.
Then, about six months into my job I started to get burned out. I was working harder than the residents were. I also realized some of the residents were taking advantage of me because I was new and zealous. Eventually, I sat down and talked with my supervisor and was told that I did not have to be “superman.” It took some time and practice, but eventually I learned what my responsibilities were and I did not have to do everything. This made some of the clients upset, but finally I was able to know when to say no. I learned the balance of loving my new job and knowing when to allow residents to do their part too.
Next, I will share the results of the Jung Typology Test. One attribute that I found after taking this test was that I am a protector. This was very relevant to me as an individual and a worker. I am trained in three different forms of martial arts: Brazilian Jui Jitsu, Maui Tai kickboxing, and Karate. I have never used my training to go bully a person, but on the contrary I have used them to protect people. When I worked at the youth treatment facility some of the residents were very violent. I helped a resident who was being abused by two other residents. I intervened when a female staff was being brutally attacked by a resident at least twice her size. I also was called to help restrain many residents who had previously harmed other residents and or staffs.
Now, I will explain my core beliefs. I have grown up the suburbs and the city and have seen people in all different economic positions, cultures, classes, and races. I have experienced times where people got along and were different, races creeds, and religions. I have also seen people judge, condemn, and are prejudice against certain people. My number one core belief is that every person in the world deserves to be treated fairly. I will give an example; I witnessed three African American children beating up a Caucasian child when I was in elementary. I also have seen people who were skinheads talk about burning crosses on African Americans front lawns. These behaviors cause me great distress. There is nothing I can do about these people’s actions. I can as a social worker strive to be fair and just with all races, creeds, colors, and religions.
We will now discuss some of the field experience assignments. This is what I learned from them as it pertains to me being a pre-professional social worker. I learned that being a social worker involves the ability to show empathy. I learned empathy from serving at the food bank. I saw people working there for community service. There were also individuals who were working because it is part of their welfare benefits agreement. I saw pregnant women who were minorities working who looked frustrated and exhausted. I started to think about the difficulties that “Populations at Risk” encounter. I thought about the old man I saw earlier that morning standing on the side of the road with a sign saying, “Please Help I am Poor and Hungry.” I then thought of the drug addict I saw on Saginaw Street picking up cigarette butts to smoke. The field experience made me contemplate about the struggles that minorities face. This experience has pushed me to not only prepare to be the best social worker I can become, but fight and even go to war for these broken, hurt, down trodden population.
Finally, I will share the last lesson I learned. I wrote my Autobiographical Timeline Narrative and realized that I have persevered throughout my life. I have overcome a difficult childhood. I have overcome a life of crime and trouble. I also continue to overcome the demons of my past as they try to pull me back to my life on the streets. I do grow weary at times with my new life. I have found times where I am stagnant and grow tired of continuing to do the right thing for the right reason. I use the tool of resiliency to combat those ideas of giving up and returning to a life of crime. Although, I cannot tell my client about my personal life; it would be against the code of ethics it would also be a boundary issue. I can teach my clients the skill of resiliency. I can encourage them to move forward in the face of adversity. I can impart self-confidence the way Denny Howard passed it on to me. I can take the gifts that were given to me and impart them to my client’s. I can do this without disclosing personal information and enable them to overcome their circumstances the same way others helped me.
In conclusion, I have had to deal with many defects of character: fear, doubt, frustrations, burn-out, and being stagnant. I was not defeated by these negatives, because there were people in my life who cared about me. These people taught me how to cope with these defects. I learned to cope with these negatives by using assets: self-confidence, focus, passion, protective instincts, beliefs, experience, and perseverance. Now, I want to take these strengths that were imparted to me by caring individuals and teach them to my client’s. This is who I am today as a pre-professional social worker. I am someone who has faced adversity and overcame it. I now want to teach my client’s to overcome and succeed like I did.