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MSW Purpose, Librarian Background, Sample Statement of Purpose for Social Work

For more than 17 years I have been employed as a Library Associate by the Los Angeles County XXXXLibrary. A bilingual Mexican-American woman, I coordinate membership programs and referral services as well as translating for Spanish-speaking patrons. I also assist with workshops and information booths. While I have enjoyed my work immensely, I am making a career change to social work and hope to earn the MSW Degree at XXXX University.

My second job, as a part-time case worker with the XXXX Resource Center and Refugee Safe Haven in Los Angeles, CA (2007-2011), set me on track to becoming a professional social worker. I fell in love with crisis intervention and other services, including advocacy, outreach and referral for designated caseloads, as well as emergencies. I also attended and participated in staff meetings and agency trainings and consulted and cooperated with community organizations. My volunteer work with XXXX, at KPFK Pacifica Radio since 2003 has brought me very close to the Latino community in LA and generally proven to be a great learning experience with respect to my community. Finally, I spent two years serving as a recruiting specialist for XXXX Intercultural Exchange Programs, USA; this was the organization that sent me to Africa in 2005 to organize an education program in Ghana (2004-2005).

My parents came to the United States from Mexico in the late 70s and I was born and raised in LA. My decision to apply to graduate school in social work is in many ways a result of my trip to Africa as an undergraduate student participating in an exchange program. After returning from Africa, I went to work with another organization geared towards immigrants from Africa. I am a Mexican woman who enjoys very much working with black people. I suppose I like to think of myself as a rainbow social worker celebrating the great diversity of people that we have in America, especially LA.

In 2005 I went to Ghana, West Africa for a full six months as a participant in the AFS Intercultural Exchange Programs, meeting my husband there. A Latina with a husband from Africa helps me to contribute to diversity in a variety of ways. In Ghana, I was assigned to work with the Hackman Foundation in Effiduase, in the eastern part of the country.  This organization allowed me to design and carry out my own project based on what I saw as the greatest needs of the community and the area in which I might make my best contribution to improving their lives. I chose to start an after school program for children at the local public library. I recruited teachers and local artists to teach arts and crafts and reading to younger children, as well as poetry writing, sports and dance. I also worked with a co-op that empowers women financially by teaching them how to make jewelry and tie dye clothes and purses, all with local and affordable material.

I faced and overcame major obstacles in Ghana, where children, especially in rural areas like Effiduase, are expected to work both before and after school. They wake up very early to go fetch water on their heads with buckets each morning, or go out and sell food in the streets. They may also take care of their siblings, feed them, dress them, clean the house, cook or wash clothes, etc. I had to beg parents to allow their children to participate in my program and I was not always successful. We managed to put together a wonderful after school program nevertheless, which was a vast learning experience for everyone involved.

In the summer of 2007, I was given the opportunity to work as a Caseworker part-time on the weekends for Refugee Safe Haven, a shelter for victims of domestic violence and human trafficking who have African roots, until it was forced to close due to lack of funds in July of 2011. Here, I learned about some of the deeper intricacies of social work and, increasingly, I found great joy in my work for 4 years at the shelter because I felt that I was making a difference, supporting the hard work of the staff as well as the clients. My responsibilities as a Caseworker included advocating for services and collaborating with other public resources to get the best results possible for each family. I loved playing liaison with government agencies particularly in cases of domestic violence, and especially immigration when assisting with human trafficking clients applying for a visa or residency. These four years at Refugee Safe Haven were a time of great self-empowerment for me as well as my clients. I provided emotional support on a daily basis and during stressful life changing situations to the women and children that I worked with. I learned how to communicate with clients about sensitive issues in an appropriate manner, understanding and being prepared for their reactions. I became more aware of my own principles, especially in showing respect for all humans and their values, beliefs, cultures, goals, needs and preferences.

While working with Nuestra Voz at KPFK Pacifica Radio, a weekly, one hour, all Spanish roundtable of Latino and Latin American issues, we covered topics such as immigration, environment, health, human rights among many others: I was exposed to broad diversity of first-hand, heartfelt issues. While becoming intensely motivated, persistent, and resilient in our quest for social justice, I also became more acutely aware of the importance of objectivity and flexibility, always ready for last minute changes. Most of all, this position helped me to become highly organized and to work constantly to perfect my ability to perform as part of team; and energize the team for success.

My principal limitation is the difficulty that I find in detaching myself from my clients when my work day is over. I try not to think about them but they almost invariably come flooding back in during my free time. I am making some progress in this regard, forcing myself to get more involved in other things so as to refresh myself for the next day as a social work professional.

I’ve always called myself a “lucky girl from the hood” and I don’t mean this to be funny or be taken lightly. I have always been surrounded by strong women who have guided me and helped me take the right path, nourishing in me a grain of love for humankind and a keen desire to fight for a better world. My mother survived an abusive relationship with my father with two young children, on her own, always supportive and loving. My rock and biggest hero, she taught me empathy. My aunt who cooked for me and my sister and helped us do our homework taught me the art of sharing and giving. My friend Maria from the AFS Intercultural Exchange Program opened an important door for opportunity. Had it not been for her inspiring presentation about the exchange program to Africa, I might have become a teenage mother. My host mother from Mexico, taught me etiquette and to adapt to new environments in loving and caring ways.

My mentor from high school pushed me to apply for college and not to settle into being a secretary but to study hard now to become professional. I also count among my great resources having a loving, supportive, non-judgmental husband and a lovely and inspiring little boy.

My immediate goal is to be accepted to the MSW Program at XXXX University. and to become a licensed social worker. Eventually, I look forward to having my own private practice, providing services, guidance and support to families and individuals, especially in shelters, hospitals or school settings. I hope to start my own non-profit at some point. My central focus will always be on women and children because I have been witness to the horrific levels of abuse to which they are subjected.

I was raised in South Central Los Angeles in a neighborhood notorious for gangs, prostitution, and drug crime, my parents separated when I was 9. At one point in my life, we were a total of 12 people sharing a 3 bedroom house and one restroom. Most of my friends in high school had babies at the age of 15 or 16 and/or dropped out. I went to Puebla Mexico and stayed with a host family where I had a mom, a dad, two sisters and a pet dog. I attended high school and became fully bicultural. I also met a lot of wonderful people from other US states coming to live and study in Mexico. Upon my return to the US in 1998, I helped organize and lead a trip of inner city kids from my high school to Europe.

While an undergraduate student majoring in Psychology, I took several classes on Latin American Studies. One of the classes was on Cuba, and if you passed the class you were invited to travel with an educational visa to the Island. I traveled to La Havana in 2003 and sat in on classes on politics, art, culture and economy. Before traveling to Cuba, I served as president of XXXX Cuban American Studies student body and helped organize medicine and school supplies to take with us to donate to Cuba. In 2005 my mother and her fiancé bough land and built a house a rural area in Ensenada, Mexico. Since then, I’ve organized a dozen caravan trips with college and close friends to take donations to the “Ejidos “surrounding my mom’s community. We’ve taken clothes, blankets and school supplies on numerous occasions. I relish the diversity found even within LA’s Spanish-speaking community. My friends from Nuestra Voz come from all different walks of life and countries of origin, Mexico, Cuba, Uruguay, Argentina, Venezuela, Spain, etc.

From 2013 and 2014, I volunteered at the House of Uhuru in South Central Los Angeles which strives to enhance the well-being of communities impacted by chemical dependency by providing comprehensive culturally-sensitive prevention and education with a continuum of quality care for positive social change. Through an organization called Crossing the Digital Divide, I taught basic computer classes twice a week for 3 months, then participated in the end of class “graduation” ceremony. In 2013, a girlfriend and I backed-pack through Spain for 10 days and I was able to return to Europe in 2014 with my husband, getting to know London and Edinburg, Scotland as well as returning to Spain, Sevilla, Granada, Cordova and Malaga.

My mother and sister have offered to take care of my son as much as need when I return to school so that I can devote myself fully to my studies. My husband has offered to take full economic responsibility as well so I can quit my job at the library.

Thank you for considering my application to XXXX.

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Sample 1st Paragraph for the MSW

Having recently graduated with honors, earning my BA in Sociology with a minor in Psychology, I feel strongly that going to graduate school in Social Work is a very natural choice for me to make. I am also especially excited about beginning my studies towards the MSW Degree as a result of my current volunteer position for an institution that provides comprehensive youth services, including mental health and crises counseling for homeless and runaway youth, academic and legal support, as well as recreational activities.

Sample of My Work in the Area of Social Work, MSW, Caribbean Woman, Virgin Islands

I immigrated permanently to the USA from my hometown of St. Croix in the Virgin Islands at 21 years old.  The fact that I am a black Caribbean woman informs every aspect of my identity and professional goals in life. I strongly identify with the underdog and hate to see people being preyed upon or being denied access to what they are entitled to. I understand the importance of community and the loneliness of neither belonging here nor there. I want to help the vulnerable, downtrodden, those who have been discriminated against, most of all women who have been victims of sexual or domestic violence and their children. I look forward to many years of professional service here in California at the same time that I build professional ties with my home town of S. Croix in preparation for also helping victims of domestic violence in the land of my birth.

I hope to dedicate the balance of my professional life, in particular, to fighting sexual abuse and violence against women and girls, protecting them, helping them to heal. This is the principal reason why I have my heart set on earning my MSW at XXXU rather than some other program, because of the progressive nature of thinking about gender, power, human rights, and our duty to protect the vulnerable members of our society that one finds especially pronounced in San Francisco’s academic community. I also very much appreciate the great diversity of SF, the city's international ties and the broad array of internship opportunities that exist, where I would be supervised by therapists that understand the challenges of working with diverse populations. My greatest contribution would be to to someday open a mental health clinic for women who have survived traumas such as domestic violence and rape. I also want to increase awareness of the importance of mental health and work to diminish the stigma of mental illness, educating members of minority and immigrant communities regarding the mental health services and community support groups that are available.

I grew up in a low-income housing project and began attending an elementary school that was shut down two years later due to the poor condition of the buildings (asbestos falling down, vandalism, etc.). French Patois, Spanish and numerous island dialects all mixed together in our Caribbean conversations. My neighbors were from Puerto Rico, Dominica, Dominican Republic, St. Vincent and many other islands. Living in the Virgin Islands (US territory) was seen by many as their first stop on the way to the USA so that their children might have a better life. St. Croix is a paradise for tourists but living there was an economic struggle for my mother and grandmother who had immigrated from neighboring Nevis, West Indies and were thus treated as second-class citizens by the Virgin Islanders. My grandmother was denied a permit to be able to serve food and my mother was forced to retake her high school classes, despite the fact that her British West Indian education far surpassed the quality of what she was taught in the GED night class that she was forced to take. My mother and grandmother were also afraid to buy land because many immigrants were being forcibly deported from the Virgin Islands. This fear stunted my entire family economically as I was growing up; I felt helpless to see them working so hard yet going nowhere.

Always at the head of the class, I skipped a grade and competed in spelling Bees, Quiz Bowls, etc. By 19, however, I found myself married to an abusive spouse, physically as well as verbally and emotionally. I left the marriage and sought support through a group called H.E.A.L.I.N.G. Ministries, a support group at a church for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. I found a lot of help there and was asked to stand in as a facilitator on a few occasions when the leader was absent. Therapy helped me to find the courage to leave that relationship and to stand on my own as well as a burning desire to help other women who find themselves in that position.

After earning my Bachelors Degree in Communication with minors in Spanish and Writing from Houghton College in New York (2000), I moved to California and have been working here  ever since. I also earned a Certificate in Fundraising & Development from UCSD (2004).  I began volunteering with the Laubach Literacy Program, teaching immigrants to read, and then with the SF Marin Food Bank, also serving for 6 months at the YWCA as the Director of Special Events & PR.  I enormously enjoyed my work as the Community Engagement Manager for Habitat for Humanity San Diego and also spent six months with the San Diego Hunger Coalition as a Senior Program Manager, conducting an assessment of the effectiveness of the Summer Food Service Program (free summer meals), interviewing low-income parents about food insecurity, etc. I also led the Summer Meals Task Force aimed at increasing capacity for the program.

While I am convinced that my extensive administrative and fundraising efforts on behalf of nonprofits will be helpful to my career as a social worker, I very much look forward to becoming an LCSW and conducting individual therapy, eventually starting my own practice. I thank you for considering my application to XXXU, my first choice for graduate school. 

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Sample 1st 2 Paragraphs for the MSW Degree in Social Work, African-American Woman.

Now 42 years old, I have given the bulk of my professional life and energy so far to becoming a Certified Respiratory Therapist and giving my all to my chosen field for the past decade. As I have matured and grown over these last 10 years since earning my certification, I have increasingly become interested in 2 things, children and social work. Therefore, I seek a career change in midlife because I have come to believe that it is my calling to protect at-risk children in my community. After earning the MSW and becoming a social work professional, I look forward to spending the balance of my life working to protect and support at-risk children in our inner-city.

I am a product of the inner city myself, African-American, raised in a single-parent home, my father an alcoholic and drug addict. Gang raped at 12, I ran away from home at 13, dropped out of school in the 10th grade, and was arrested shortly after turning 18. I understand the struggles faced by young people in the inner city and I want to dedicate my life to helping to protect them.

Sample 1st Paragraph for a DSW Program in Social Work

I hope to be considered for entry to the DSW Program at the University of XXXX due to my extensive and relevant experience and long tradition of engagement with veteran services and diversity issues, especially as concerns the Native American community with which I have extensively involved since 1997, when I began serving as a volunteer Sergeant at Arms, promoting the well-being, interests and agenda of tribes and tribal entrepreneurs.

Sample 1st 2 Paragraphs for the MSW Degree, African-American Man, Community

I feel very strongly that social workers are among the community’s most important members, serving as bridge and outreach to our most vulnerable members, those who most need our support. This is particularly true for the African-American community with its troubled past that helps to explain the high incidence of poverty and why there are roughly as many young black men of college age in prison as there are in college. A black man, now 45, I have been involved in the black struggle and black issues my entire life, which will help me to excel as an MSW professional working with black people in particular, especially boys and young men.

My family has a rich tradition of community service; my maternal grandmother Gladys Coley worked tirelessly as a civil rights worker. My uncle is a social worker in Connecticut; an aunt is currently serving as a city commissioner in the community where I grew up in Georgia and a second aunt retired as a social worker in this same community. My mother was chairperson of an organization called Ebony in Action, dedicated to social justice causes and helping minorities to attend college.  

MSW, Clinical Social Work, Alcoholic Family, Social Work Statement of Purpose Sample

Reasons for my interest in joining the program and the specific population that I would like to help.

My family has been beset by numerous serious mental health problems including: alcohol abuse and addiction, schizoaffective disorder, dementia and anger issues that resulted in an attempted murder charge. I have been involved in trying to help in the various situations and in liaising with the professionals doing so. I have been deeply impressed by the dedicated efforts of the various professionals involved.

I have a Bachelor degree in Psychology which has given me some insights into the situations that I have faced but I have developed a strong desire to acquire the additional, specialist knowledge and skills that will enable me to assist others afflicted by mental health and anger issues to live as productive and happy a life as possible. I am particularly interested in working with children and young people being a strong believer in the importance and effectiveness of early intervention.

Reasons for applying to UXX specifically and how my career plans and interests are congruent with the program:

Living in Charlotte, I am aware of the University’s prestigious reputation for its faculties and facilities. I am aware that the Social Work Department stands high in national and international rankings, that most of the faculty have ‘hands on’ experience of Social Work and that its graduates are in considerable demand. I am seeking a challenging but supportive academic environment and see that accessibility of the faculty members is regarded as a priority. The availability of a wide variety of placement opportunities and an emphasis on field work is important to me because of a lack of formal social work experience.

I am also drawn to the program because of its ‘holistic’ approach to Social Work and the emphasis on the role of family and community in the life experiences of individuals reflecting my own, strongly held view.  My intention is to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker specializing in child and family therapy and mental illness in youth and I am confident that the program will equip me to become a highly competent practitioner in my chosen area of specialty.

Summary of volunteer and professional experience including leadership and working with disadvantaged populations

My background has mainly been in the world of finance, culminating in a role as Operations Manager. My various jobs have involved interacting with people of many ethnic and social backgrounds as potential customers, customers, colleagues and subordinates. I am forthright and relaxed with others and always seek to assist them where I can. I have always observed leadership styles and sought to emulate the most successful and to develop this vital life-skill. I have observed that a good leader is accessible, a good listener, knowledgeable, relaxed, flexible where appropriate and inspires confidence and trust, and this has been my ‘template’.

I have been involved in volunteer work for many years, included fund-raising, distribution of food to the elderly and handicapped and providing a variety of extra-curricular activities for children and adults from deprived neighborhoods. I firmly believe that there is an inescapable obligation to ‘give back’ for those of us who have been fortunate in our lives.  In preparation for the program, I have arranged to ‘shadow’ a Social Worker who works with the homeless in a Salvation Army shelter. I am greatly looking forward to this additional experience.

I am a mature woman of color whose social, academic, professional and voluntary activities and have involved interacting positively with people of many ethnicities, social backgrounds and lifestyles including the poor, disadvantaged, those with physical and mental health challenges and LGBT. I described earlier the serious challenges faced by family members in the matter of mental health in which I have tried to assist and counsel. I consider that this background provides a firm foundation on which to acquire and apply the skills and knowledge required to assist people in diverse situations and facing difficult challenges and prejudices in their lives.

My understanding of the social work profession and its core values. How I incorporate social work values in my human service experiences and interactions.

My understanding of Social Work is that it involves the forming and maintenance of positive and constructive relationships with clients and others associated with them where appropriate. It calls for an optimistic but strictly realistic attitude to possible outcomes and a willingness to persevere where a client might be difficult to assist. The work calls for emotional maturity and intelligence together with an ability to communicate clearly and confidently and to appreciate that the often chaotic thoughts and feelings, that are features of distress, call for patient but determined and focused guidance.  Situations calling for professional intervention are often highly complex and such complexities may well not be immediately apparent so that patient listening, an appreciation of ‘body language signals’ and careful investigation is required to identify underlying problems leading to possible solutions. Essentially, there is a need to be able to look past the behaviors to those things that are driving them. I also understand that successful outcomes, no matter how obviously desirable, can never be achieved by being imposed. In all areas of my own life, I have sought to be helpful and to carefully consider situations before speaking or acting and to ‘look behind’ situations and behavior to try to gain as ‘full a picture’ as is possible.

I am aware of the social work core values of service, social justice, dignity and worth of patience, importance of human relationships, integrity and competence. I unhesitatingly endorse these values which I shall seek to recall at the beginning of every working day and to incorporate them fully into my studies and working life.

Diversity in personal characteristics, unique skills, or life experiences.

I have always sought to champion diversity to the, perhaps limited, extent to which I have been able in my life to date.  In a fairly long life, I have inevitably observed discrimination not exercised overtly but in subtle yet, nevertheless, very real ways and there exists a strong need to educate people to recognise that the ‘other’ no matter how, or how far, ‘different’ should in every circumstance, be treated as an individual of unique worth. I also recognise that members of minority groups are not, themselves, immune from pre-judging people who do not share their race or are otherwise different from themselves and so the need for education is not limited to majorities in any community that I have observed, though that need may not be so obvious or urgent.

Groups that may challenge me because of personal values or attitudes and how I will handle this

The groups that may challenge me the most would be victims of child abuse and neglect, and victims of domestic violence.  I have never personally experienced these situations but I can imagine identifying with the clients very closely and harbouring unhelpful feelings of anger and revulsion towards the perpetrators. I am presumably not unique in such feelings and would seek the guidance of those more experienced in dealing with these particular groups in how to detach myself so that I can maximize my effectiveness.

What do you think will be your greatest challenges in a graduate social work program and how will you manage those challenges?

Although I have taken some continuing education courses over the years, I have not been in formal education for more than 25 years. I am an enthusiastic reader with natural curiosity about many subjects. However, I expect to face a challenge in re-engaging in a formal and structured academic environment. I intend to quit my job and so time pressure will not be a major problem. I intend to manage this challenge by creating a structured timetable of private study and review of material and adhering strictly to it.

Academic Challenges

At Hampton University, my major was Biology/Pre-Med. as I intended to become a physician like my father. I lost enthusiasm for medicine during my first and second semesters which affected my grades. Eventually, I found the courage to tell my father that I was no longer interested in medicine but wished to study the mind and people’s social challenges.  I changed my major to Psychology and transferred to the University of South Carolina the next semester.  My grades improved significantly in each successive semester – making the dean’s list in one of those semesters. 

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