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Doctoral Degrees in Social Work, the Big Picture

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Doctoral of Social Work DSW Purpose at USC

Doctoral Purpose in Social Work

Sample Statement of Purpose for the PHD in Social Work, Chinese, Healthy Aging

XXXX College is my first choice among PHD Programs in Social Work because of the cutting-edge nature of research taking place in your program. I also find the special research interests of your faculty to be most inspiring, paving the way for my own future directions and accomplishments in Social Work. I appreciate the fact that XXXX College has a complete social work library which I visited when I came to XXXX in 2015. I adore the city with so many cultural and intellectual resources.

A young Chinese woman who has now been in the USA for 3 years in the pursuit of my academic and professional dreams, my own area of special interest is facilitating productive engagement among older adults; and XXXX College has the world-renowned XXXX Center on Aging & Work with which I look forward to engaging and learning a great deal. It would be such a great honor to join your research community. I am particularly excited about the prospect of studying under Professor XXXX XXXX, the Senior Research Associate at the XXXX Center on Aging & Work and principal investigator of the project: “Engaged as We Age.”

I have enormous passion and enthusiasm for research in Social Work: diligent, detail-orientated, responsible, pro-active thinking, intelligent. I have developed a broad knowledge base and have extensive practice and research experience, particularly as it concerns aging. During my undergraduate years, I acquired a great deal of internship experience and social work practice providing social work services to the older adults.  These experiences brought me the most sublime joy, especially serving as a Project Coordinator as part of my internship at Chunhui social service agency where I led a volunteer team visiting older adults with chronic disease in a hospital once a week. During this internship with Chunhui, I built a deep relationship with one of the older adults. Because I was the same age with her granddaughter who was not able to visit her frequently; she was really happy to see me when I came to see her. Once, she gave me a bag of snacks that she had saved for me, and insisted on giving it to me, and she always told me over and over again to take care of myself. I especially appreciated this bonding and opportunity to share with such a lovely person. I was deeply touched by her kindness; she reminded me very much of my grandma, who raised me.

My university in China was very far away from my hometown, so I did not have the chance to take care of my grandma and keep her company as before. I had no other choice but to trust that social services would provide company and support for my grandma, just like I am providing to older adults here in America. This was a major factor in my decision to focus on the aging population, to learn as much as I could about them, the special issues and challenges that they face – always searching for creative solutions. I also want to become a promoter of social work practice and support for this age group in China, doing as much as we can so that they have peaceful and happy lives in their old age.

After earning my Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work in China, I decided to continue my studies in the United States, where vast resources are devoted to social work education, seeking advanced knowledge and skills that would enable me to make major contributions to our understanding of the aging process and the needs of older populations worldwide, especially in China.

After earning my MSW here in the USA, I went to work as a research assistant at the Rush University Medical Center. The principal research project that I worked on at Rush was called “A Population Study of Elderly Chinese in Chicago”, a community-engaged, population-based epidemiological research investigation with 3159 face-to-face interviews conducted. The participants were all older adults who living in the greater Chicago Area. We studied a variety of factors including key cultural determinants of health and well-being. My responsibilities included collecting data through face-to-face interviews with participants and analyzing data by using SPSS, as well as helping to draft our work for publication. It also pleased me greatly in this position to put what I had learned in the area of mental health to work, helping to conduct 10-week mental health interventions for older adults with depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation.

I believe that I have the type of personality for a career in Social Work leadership and research – especially because I have a very vivid curiosity driving my kind and compassionate heart. When I am first introduced to what is for me a novel social phenomenon, I always want to know what is that, what is the reason that caused this, what will be the results of this phenomenon, how to address this phenomenon, should it be increased or reduced. I would like to give my professional life to the search for answers to these kinds of questions with respect to older people’s issues. I am a good fit with social work because it brings me such great joy and inner peace, arriving each day freshened and quickened and even more highly motivated to excel at the task at hand. I could not have had a better time so far serving as a research assistant. Some of my fondest memories are now that of interviewing participants, conversing with them at length, and coming to a much better understanding of the needs and concerns of this population, the problems they are facing with in their daily life.

I adore the research process itself: focusing intently on the research question and sifting through the previous studies to see what light other researchers have already shed on the matter. Next, I am equally excited by the process of analyzing the data collected from the real world. This process of answering the questions is really enjoyable. But it is the end of the research process that is the greatest contribution, the advanced and increasingly effective promotion of the well-being of older adults. We all have the older adults in our family; we all become older adults in the future. As a clinical social worker, I look forward to making the fullest effort for decades to come to protect and uplift older adults worldwide. In addition to learning from my professors at XXXX College, I look forward to learning many valuable things from my peers as well, from all over the Developing World in particular, sharing insights, comparing notes on the unique struggles faced by older adults in our countries of origin.

 I am keenly excited about learning about the full gambit of issues in Social Work, especially everything closely related to my field of interest. I believe that the research is the foundation of all solutions, pointing the way to the most effective and humane way to address the social problem or issue in question. As a professional researcher, I have the chance to promote beneficial social changes by having an impact on social policy, adopting leadership roles in social service development, making my fullest professional contribution to the well being of as many older people as possible by shedding greater light on the challenges of the aging process for specific populations.

My principal research interests include productive engagement, social support networking for older adults, intergenerational relationships, and health status and healthcare utilization among older adults. My own top priority is productive engagement. Based on my social work practice and research experience, I noticed that a great deal of older adults still have the ability and willingness to make important contributions to society after their retirements and I want to work to encourage this and facilitate those contributions. Even though some of the previous studies have stereotyped older adults as fragile, extensive recent studies demonstrate that social engagement, as a mean of involving the elders in social activities, is most beneficial for both the physical health and mental health of older adults. Further research in this area could shed further light on the meaningfulness of productive engagement for older adults, examining implications for social service agencies and social policy makers in terms of the need to increase opportunities for older adults to productively engaged in social activities.

I aspire to be a social work researcher and educator that investigates the full complexity of social problems in as search for solutions, passing on the torch to the next generation of social work scholars, as well as having an impact on advancing the field of social policy and social work practice. I hope I could have the knowledge and power to push the boundaries of research and policy making to address the most serious issues that exist among our older adults, to create a more aging-friendly society that actively promotes peaceful and happy lives in one’s old age. I thank you for consideration of my application to Social Work at XXXX College.

DSW Sample Statement of Purpose

An African-American woman, a social worker, and a Captain in the US Army since 2010, I now serve in the reserves. I think of myself as strong yet compassionate, dedicated to duty yet a critical thinker, and someone who has a lot to contribute to the field of Social Work, especially after earning the DSW Degree at UXX.

My professional goals span across academic, organizational, and clinical worlds. I am especially interested in obtaining a teaching position in the future where I will have the freedom to teach and practice at the same time, working with students in clinical practice. I look forward to developing a special focus on human behavior and the social environment as well as diversity issues in Social Work.

I have had the wonderful opportunity to serve as a field instructor during my BSW as well as MSW studies, for students matriculating at Texas A&M, Baylor University, and NYU. I discovered that I have a great passion for teaching and social work training and the development of new competencies for new generations of social workers. I seek to build upon my strengths, identifying and addressing professional deficiencies in order to always reach upwards to my fullest potential

At some point after earning the DSW Degree I look forward to building my own thriving practice that involves but transcends therapy, providing CEU trainings, consultation and supervision. I look forward to contributing to research and becoming a published author of well-received studies of the issues in Social Work with which I am most engaged, developing my voice in those areas that I see as especially important. I seek to develop and inform behavioral health policy and contribute towards its effective implementation.

I have a special interest in developing programming for mothers of color who are incarcerated for non-violent offenses, advocacy of jail release and recovering custody of their children if possible, not as a lawyer but as a DSW Professional. Programming would include comprehensive assessments, individual and family Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, educational/employment assistance, childcare, support groups and housing. In the case of moms in particular, I see special opportunity for reform and smart decarceration leading to second opportunities for women and their children

My professional experiences have provided me with exposure to various challenging opportunities that have strengthened and broadened my skillset in leadership, collaboration, communication and innovation. As a Program Director at Bell County Mental Health Indigent Defense a new mental health diversion court program in Bell County Texas, I worked with the local county commissioners court comprised of elected officials responsible for the fiscal oversight of all county programs. Many of the elected officials and stakeholders had limited formal knowledge of mental illness and its impact on the criminal justice system and commonly adopted the “tough on crime” approach. Mental health trainings were provided to all stakeholders including court appointed defense attorneys in order to enhance general knowledge mental health and best practices. I realized the value of purposeful data collection and data integrity when I found myself demonstrating how Bell County Mental Health Indigent Defense can help to reduce fiscal cost at the county jail through early identification of defendants with mental health needs, along with jail release/ diversion to mental health and substance abuse treatment programs. Through the BCMHID Social Work Program, Bell County was able to divert scarce resources to assist with other desperate needs in the community, especially housing referral services. BCMHID collaborated with the local mental health authority agency developing a MOU to streamline service referrals and proposed the creation of a co-response team for outreach and engagement of mutually served participants that were hospitalized, missed court appearances/re-arrests or otherwise demonstrated challenges in treatment engagement.

Earning the DSW at UXX will enable and inspire me in the achievement of my central professional goals. Now 36 years old, I hope to bring with me to the DSW Program at UXX a broad variety of valuable and relevant experiences in social service programming. Though I have numerous areas of interest related to Social Work that I am passionate about, the two Social Work Grand Challenges that I resonate with in particular are: 1.) Promote Smart Decarceration and 2.) Ensure Healthy Development of All Youth (especially with respect to mental health issues).

 In 2013 the NYC Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice (MOC-J) introduced a 10-year plan to close Rikers Island, one of the most overcrowded and violent jails in the world. My current tenure as Court-based Intervention Resource Team (CIRT) Program Director is one of the many community-based programs funded by MOC-J and I feel enormously proud of my personal contribution to the gradual depopulation of Rikers. CIRT is an Alternative to Incarceration (ATI) post-plea and Alternative to Detention (ATD) pre-plea program that serves justice involved clients with serious mental illness and/ or co-occurring disorders; our central focus is on the reduction of incarceration rates on Rikers Island. Through the utilization of the evidenced based Risk Need Responsivity Model, we provide services that are tailored to meet the client’s risk level so as to reduce recidivism. I see my work as taking place on the dynamic intersection of criminal justice and behavioral health, affording me the opportunity to incorporate each of the CSWE social work competencies every day.

Research demonstrates the critical need to invest in our youth, to protect and uplift this vulnerable human resource and harness it to productive purposes - to the extent to which we are able to do so. To ensure the Healthy Development of all youth requires prioritizing resources in the areas of behavioral health education and prevention that reduces the stigma associated with mental health issues and treatment, especially in minority communities. I seek a lifetime of academic and practical engagement with issues of accessibility to comprehensive behavioral health services, addressing client needs in a culturally appropriate context which historically impacts marginalized communities. As an optimistic and hardworking Social Work professional, I keenly look forward to seeing an increase in community mental health awareness in underserved communities and the subsequent improvement of behavioral health outcomes, especially among members of urban minority communities in NYC.

I believe social workers are equipped with unique knowledge and abilities that are much needed in today’s political landscape; knowledge and abilities in assessment, research, advocacy, solution-based policies and implementation. I have personally engaged in the politics driving some of the issues and debates at the grassroots level; for example, I worked on the gubernatorial campaigns as representative for NYC HOPE Research Project for the Homeless. In fact, I plan to progressively position myself to run for public office, at some point in my career, where I might have the opportunity to advocate for equitable, inclusive legislation, funding, and progressive programming that seeks to go beyond identity politics.

I am ready to hit the ground running and excel at UXX and distinguish myself as a devoted and very hard working DSW student. I have studied diversity training outcomes in depth at CSWE accredited programs. Having recently completed the Beck Institute’s CBT training for depression and suicidality as well as a 1-year training in Motivational Interviewing, I am ready to hit the ground running and excel at UXXand distinguish myself as a devoted and very hard working DSW student

I thank you for considering my application.