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MSW Social Policy and Practice, Guyana

I thought I was in control, that I could trust the medical professionals I was seeing, that the anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications were appropriate.  Despite my completing pre-med classes at TempleU, my knowledge and understanding, I knew that something was horribly wrong, that I was losing control.  For the past few years, I tried to fix it, and yet ended up in hospital, and lost my job.  My family initially reached out, but walked away, confused, and disillusioned, leaving me emotionally derelict.  I hit bottom, and there were no answers there.  The only hope for my survival was me.  Rising above prescription medicine addiction, I have seen my life’s path all the more clearly.

 Growing up an immigrant, coming from Guyana to the streets of the Bronx, I am personally aware of the assorted difficulties facing inner-city youth: poverty, childcare inadequacies, racism, discrimination, and English as a second language.  I have lived and seen the underserved populations, and my compassion for these populations and situations has only grown with my own experiences.  These personal experiences combined with my extensive professional experiences will aid me invaluably in my helping of others.  Honesty in handling clients, making them feel at ease, and realizing that someone cares is paramount to the success of any Social Work and I feel I embody these qualities.

 While I have enjoyed and excelled in my work as a senior administrative professional, for many years now I have felt unfulfilled, and that I had much more to offer.  I have seen time and again, clients that are facing assorted issues solely because of unaddressed psychological and emotional difficulties.  Through my own experiences of survival and recovery, I feel I have much to impart.  Whereas I was handling every aspect of administration, in a number of capacities, my heart had always wanted to be on the other side of the equation, working with the client through their most trying times, and not just facilitating an efficient office.  Albeit, working in various professional positions, I have had the chance to work in a multidisciplinary team environment; experiences that I know will aid me in my future in Social Work.

 XXXX School of Social Policy and Practice’s commitment to academic excellence is evident in having over a century of conceptual continuity; truly reassuring of an educational experience that is unsurpassed.  Furthermore, I found the School’s Liberal Arts approach to education refreshing, making it stand out amongst the background noise of other state schools that do not produce as well-rounded alumni.  And last but by no means least, the MSW program’s Field Placement portion is much like a doctor completing their residency, working under the supervision of their attending.  This level of professionalism, trust, and system of checks and balances bolsters my confidence immensely in a curriculum that beyond doubt produces effective Social Workers, immersing them in real-world experiences.

 For the future, it is my express desire to work in a capacity that will allow my personal experiences to have never been in vain.  This would bring me the greatest personal and professional satisfaction, over and above any that I ever have nor ever possible could in my previous career.  Ideally, I would like to focus my energies being a supervisor for an organization that provides counseling for substance abusers.

 Although I do not currently work in a social service agency, my personal experiences struggling with prescription medicine addiction combined with an excellent foundation in medical science from one of America’s leading medical schools, Temple U, have prepared me for the challenge and opportunity to pursue a personally and professionally satisfying career in Social Work. 

 Moreover, my aims are to lead in a supervisory capacity, for an organization that provides counseling for substance abusers, thus my decade of experience leading teams of administrative professionals, managing money for a hospital, advertising/marketing and academic registration will aid me invaluably in my life’s newest – truest – direction.  Over the years, I have been involved in my community, volunteering at a nursing home, interning at a local elementary school, and personally developing my proficiency in Spanish, combined with all of my personal and immigrant experiences, has convinced me of my desire to be a force for change and aid others.

 More importantly, my work and volunteer experiences afforded me the opportunity to work with people of all ages and circumstances, increasing not just my appreciation and understanding of differing creeds, and cultures.  Coupled with these abilities are my extensive travels throughout Europe, Central America and the Caribbean.  With every step in these amazing places, I have seen beyond their looking glasses, their dizzying array of histories and seen the people.  There is no greater way to reach out to a community than to have been an active member, to be able to speak in their arterial language, developing your cultural competency and having walked more than a mile in their shoes.

 Prescription drug addiction is a social issue I have direct and personal experience with.  On the surface, the issue seems oxymoronic, begging the question, how can a person become addicted to pharmaceuticals if a physician prescribes it?  However, every day, cancer survivors alone need to be weaned off morphine, its synthetics and other painkillers.   While many patients are introduced to prescription drugs legitimately, there are very few checks and balances to assisting patients postoperatively, after treatment regimens have ended, or a person’s insurance is lost for one reason or another.  In this golden age of information and global marketplace, prescription drugs are a few mouse clicks away, with many patients seeking out illegitimate ways of obtaining them.  The ability for medical professionals to check up on patients and their progress after they have satisfactorily completed their regimens is simply unfeasible.  Should these patients be punished in the same way as abusers of other drugs?  And how many people are aware of, or can afford voluntary treatment programs?

 Addiction remains intrinsically identical, whether the drugs were obtained legitimately, prescribed, or purchased on the street or the electronic highway, whether the drugs were cocaine, heroine or legitimate painkillers, or anti-anxiety meds.  Many people, my family included do not see things in shades of gray; addiction is addiction.  Others give a greater emotional and psychological leeway to those victims of manufactured medication addiction, even if the drugs were obtained through illegitimate channels, calling the abuse of prescription drugs “non-medical use”, a very clinical term that confuses and sterilizes the reality.

 It is up to the social worker in conjunction with parents, teachers and prominent community members to identify at-risk populations, not just teens, but also immigrants struggling to become acculturated, and other silent minorities.  Many people say after the fact that they wished there was something they could have done.  The old saying “it takes a village” holds true in this situation.  My History education tells me that this is an ages old story.  Post-American Civil War, many soldiers found themselves addicted to morphine, leading to the drug becoming one of America’s first controlled substances.  It is our responsibility to educate everyone about the potential risks, the warning signs, what the drugs’ slang names are, and their effects and side effects.  Where we cannot prevent what damage has been done, the social worker can do a great deal to reduce the impact of this all-too-real pattern of destruction.

 Having been there before, I would be the ideal sounding board, a soft place to fall, for the people I counsel.  When I see a client in a hole they cannot get out of, I will get in the hole with them.  I will be able to tell them not to worry, I have been here before, and I know the way out.

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