My motivation to become a social worker came after being exposed to two different cultures and realizing that poverty and scarcity are not choices but social problems. As a MexicanAmerican I had the advantage to grow up in two countries that in addition to their differences in language and culture, I learned that poverty affects anyone anywhere. Growing up in a low income family has been the most rewarding experience. Not only did I learn to always make the most out of everything, but I also developed a sense of awareness and empathy. For so long, Thad the impression that being poor was the result of negligence and lack of hard work.
However, my thinking changed, when I realized that besides all the hard work that my parents did, we had the same lifestyle everywhere we go. For example, during the eight years that we lived in Mexico, both of my parents worked, but still was not enough to cover our basic needs such as food and shelter. In 2007, with the idea of having a better living we moved back to the United States, however, to my surprise, instead of seeing an economic progress, we faced the same or even worse reality. This time not only did not have enough food, but we were forced to live in a garage because it was the only place my parents could afford.
My ideal job will be a position where I will be able to grow not only professionally but personally as well. I am a true believer that a job is not just a mean of financially support, but it is more about proving yourself and others your work ethics. My ideal work environment will be a place where everyone is committing it to create a fair environment for everyone, in other words, I am a team player. I envision a profession where I can make a difference in society. After these experiences, I found out myself being capable to overcome hard circumstances, at the same time, I became really sensitive towards other families that go hrough the same hardships especially when children are involved. For these reasons, my goal in life has been to find a profession where I can use of my skills for the wellbeing of families and children. I believe that Social Work will be the best option to fulfill my goal. One of the issues that concerns me, is the negative effect that poverty has in children’s education. For the past three years, I have been working with children and young adults at different schools, and I have noticed that one of the major problems among children of minority groups is the lack of motivation.
Trying to find an answer for this pattern, 1 recall the many times I heard my parents talking about how hard was to support a family. In retrospect, most of the conversations at home were about not having enough money to pay for bills, food, and rent. For instance, it really not surprises me whenever I ask a student the question, What do you want to do when you grow up, and in returned, they answer”I do not know, as long as I have enough money to pay rent, bills and food”.
Unfortunately, this scenario is the reality of many of us who come from a low income family, not only because we are used to see scarcity at home, but we are also exposed to conversations about how hard it is to maintain a home. As a result, I comprehend the saying “Children are a Reflection of their Parents”, in other words, we learned the same habits of our parents. For instance if their main priority becomes to survive instead of succeed, we will follow the same philosophy. For this reason, I will like to pursue a career in Social Work focusing on Children and Families in order for me to provide the help and motivation that families need.
Three of the main pillars that helped me overcome all adversities and shaping who Tam today are my mom, values and education. As my mom being Catholic, my life has been surrounded and influenced by Religion. I even studied in a private Catholic Middle school where I developed my awareness about cultural diversity. Every month we used to visit a senior center, where our main purpose was to provide emotional support to the elders. It only took one visit so I could realize the reality that many of our seniors faced. I remember that hearing the different reasons of how some elders ended up at the center was a valuable experience.
One of the stories that really marked my life, was about this senior that confessed that he preferred to live away from his family because he was physically and emotionally abused. This story was not only heartbreaking to hear, but it had a personal meaning because my mom has taught me to be respectful to my elders because they are considered to be a source of knowledge and experience. Based on my experience, I am a strong believer that parents carry a big responsibility on raising children with ethics and commitment to make their communities a safe environment for everyone.
Personally, I can corroborate that my mom did a great job as a parent. Since was a little girl, she has taught me to be responsible, caring, and helpful, to be grateful for everything that we have, and most ortantly to never give up no matter the circumstances. This last one, has been the key to my success as being the first one to accomplish different goals than any other in my family. Graduating from college is one of the most amazing events in my life. It was during these years whereby the first time in my life I felt smart, alive and productive.
Furthermore, by graduating from college, I started to set new goals for my family. Being the first child of eight, I can say that it is gratifying to see how much my family’s conversations changed since I started to share my knowledge to all of them. For me, being the first one in my family to ever go to college meant a source of motivation. Some traits I will be able to transfer into this program are my empathy, responsibility, patience, my self-awareness, my hard work and determination to succeed in life. In addition, I consider myself an altruistic person, who finds pleasure in helping others.
I believe that whoever really understands the concept of helping others will agree with me that sometimes help not only mean providing material things to someone, but we have to understand that help is a broad concept that comes in different forms and shapes. For example, there have been times where people are financially stable, but it might be lacking emotionally support. In this case, a person will find more value in receiving a kind word, than getting a monetary help. It all depends on the need of the person. On another note, I will like to share one of my biggest obstacles that I still face every day.
As already mentioned, I grew up in two different countries and I also learned that a child can also be affected by factors that sometimes we take for granted, such as language. As a proud English Learner, I have learned that success is not necessarily defined by the battles that you win but also by the ones you lose. Academically speaking, my biggest challenge is dealing with writing conventions. Unfortunately, the experienced that I had as an English learner during high school in a way made me insecure about myself because what many did not know was that having to learn a new language at the age of fifteen was really hard.
Moreover, every time I will look for help, I will faced with people that will label me as incompetent and incapable of showing any progress. Looking back, on top of adaptation process into the country, I had to deal with the stigma that every English learner went through. The bright side is, that I became a resilience person and I can honestly say that I would not be the persistent person that I am today, if it would not be for the fact that English is my second language.
Overall, I have the impression that now is the perfect time in my life to work towards my Masters’ Degree. I currently do not have any children, so my entire time will be devoted to my education, I also have a flexible schedule to work around my classes. About the field work, I think I have the positive mindset that once | start taking classes I get interested and open minded to complete any task that I have to complete. Financially, I am counting on financial aid, an educational award that I was granted (Segal AmeriCorps Education Award), my savings and stipends programs.