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MSW, Substance Abuse, Arab Single Mother

I write what follows on behalf of my application to study towards the MSW Degree at XXXX University. I am most fortunate to be alive and a practiced social work professional who is most happy, engaged, inquisitive, and productive—helping people is my life. This is particularly true from the fact that I once suffered as did many of the clients with whom I have worked. My own substance abuse problem landed me eventually on skid row as a young woman. Yet, I found an inner light and clung to it.

The flip side of substance abuse is the correctional system. Thus, the more success we have at treating the substance abuse of those who have been processed by our criminal justice system, the more success we have at controlling the growth of our prison population, recidivism in particular. It is in this area that I seek to make my mark and excel and I want very much to become a probation officer, a position in which I will see myself as an advocate. I feel strongly that many people caught up in the criminal justices system fail to adequately understand their rights and I want to empower them to stand up to the plate and do what they need to do in order to put the experience behind them. I hope to one day manage my own private practice dedicated to women’s  sober living, a half way house for women released from prison, a shelter from domestic violence for families, something like that, always with therapy as a central focus.

In 2003, I earned my AA Degree in Psychology along with a Chemical Dependency Certificate. While, I would not receive by Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services until 2014, I had already became a social worker and found the calling that I love by 2002, working with the same organization that I continue to serve until today, Shields for Families. I am currently serving with the XXXX Dual Diagnosis Program working as a Counselor II/ Mental Health Case Manager. Soon, I will have 6 years of experience providing one-on-one individual counseling sessions for clients, running group therapy sessions in the areas of:  Relapse Prevention; Drug and Alcohol Education; Anger Management Education; Domestic Violence Education; Seeking Saf ety; Group Counseling; Life Skills Education; Gender Issues Education; and Movement Therapy. I create treatment plans for new clients and provide them with orientation, along with initial psychosocial assessments. I labor to identify all possible resources that might be available for each client and I create discharge plans for clients once they graduate from our program. I could not enjoy my work more, yet I now feel strongly that it is my time to work for greater levels of responsibility and contribution.

 I began my professional employment with XXXX for Families in August of 2002, serving as a Case Manager and Outreach Worker for pregnant mothers and children under the age of 2. Thus, it is clear that I realized my calling a long time ago and I have pleased that I have a wealth of experience to share with my peers and colleagues in your program, and I look forward to learning from their experiences as well. This program was called the “Healthy Start Program” and it was indeed a healthy start for me as well. I went on to learn more and more as I served XXXX for Families over the years working with the XXXX Program and the XXXX Day Treatment Facility. I have also given as much time as I am able as a volunteer locally to the Heros & Sheros organization providing crisis intervention and prevention services. We try to get parents sober and keep them that way.

I am a dedicated professional who has been working in the human service field for 11 years as a case manager and substance dependency counselor. Now 47 years old, I feel that I have a great deal of professional maturity that will enable me to excel in your distinguished program at XXXX University and I also look forward to contributing to the diversity of your program as an Arab woman who was born and lived the first few years of my life in Jordan. Immigrating to America as a child resulted in my never learning to read and write Arabic but to this day I can still speak the language of my country of origin.  I thrive on diversity in fact, and love the excitement of America’s melting pot in a fast paced environment

When I was 3 years old my father was forced into exile from our native Jordan for political reasons. He came to America, bringing several sisters and their children with him, which helped to make the adjustment to America especially chaotic. Shortly after my arrival I began to be physically and sexually abused by an older cousin and the abuse would last from 4 to 9 years old, until my cousin became involved with my older sister who he would go on to marry. It is a deep shame to me that because of my cousin’s maleness and privileged status within the extended family, my parents refused to defend me. This experience has given me a keen sensitivity to the horrors of cultural patriarchy and male privilege in many immigrant communities in America, Arab immigrant families all too often being distinguished in this regard.

I felt like an outcast, going to school and not looking like all the other girls. Being chunky since food was like my sole consolation, I never really felt like I fit in at all in America or at school until I found the “stoner” area.  Drugs helped me feel like I fit in and I got off to an early start. I began using marijuana as a student in elementary school and began drinking alcohol at about the same time. Drinking alcohol was quite the norm since everyone in my family drank alcohol.

I was 13 when my sister married my abuser cousin. My response to the indignity was to run away from home and begin using cocaine, soon becoming a prostitute, pimped by a man who I thought that I was in love with when I first met him. I went back and forth from my home to this man. I was a child, raped inside and out, sold, and badly beaten up on a number of occasions. Back home at 16 I got hooked on meth. My father moved us to Santa Clarita, CA thinking I would have a fresh start but I soon found my children's father and we became "Deadheads", into psychedelic drugs. He was able to hold down a full time job despite his addictions, for years, and pay the bills that we had with three little boys as well as paying for our abuse. Before I sobered up in a definitive fashion, I was facing not only the loss of my children but 3 years in jail. God came through for us in time, when I finally hit rock bottom. To this day I thank the Lord for a friend who was there for me from the beginning of all this. She was a minister who gave food out to the homeless.  This is how we meet.  She was the one who took my children when I was on skid row.  She had the church write letters to the judge not to put me in prison.  She is a leader in the World Women Ministries and when she does seminars she tells me that she often uses me as an example of what God can do in someone’s life. 

My special friend was hard when she needed to be and never judged me. Once I got sober and really looked at my life and what I wanted to give my children, I could not just keep thinking I was the only one in the world who was dealt a bad hand. In fact, finding growing social support and making progress healing, I came to realize that I was not alone at all, that in many ways, at least in some sociocultural contexts such as my own, abuse is almost the norm. My own mother came from a household of 15 children, for example, and I meet her father and he was not a nice person. I found out my mother was also hurt as a child and marrying my father to escape her home was all she knew.  My mother was only 14.

As I am a classic case of redemption for my special friend, I was also a classic case of intractability for a long time with my substance abuse demons. My children were eventually placed in the system I got kicked out of several programs for using. Meanwhile, my children’s father had lost his steady employment and was spiraling into fully blown alcoholism. At that point I made a promise to God, my children, and myself that I was going to get clean. I called everywhere to find a program even though I was still getting high every day.  I found XXXX; they were the only ones who would take me and my children. To this day my children’s father continues to abuse alcohol and drugs.

I graduated from Shields in February of 2002, and was hired in September of that same year. I moved into my own place in Dec of 2002 and my children's father remained in his addiction living with his mother. He overdosed in February of 2003. I was left to raise 3 boys on my own and had little clue as to what I was doing.  My oldest was living with his father and he came to live with me and the little ones and we had some tough challenges. 

Today, I find myself still working through some issues and trying to figure out where I am going in life professionally, for the balance, the culmination, making sense in the fullest expression possible of my redemptive experience of a lifetime.  I feel I have come a long way but still have a long way to go.  I learn from every experience in my life and I am so grateful to have learned to forgive.  I recovered from substance abuse and its causes, I came to know what it was like to be homeless, helpless, lost in the world.  I know what it takes to get back on track. This is the principal strength of my application to your program. I take special delight in my 5-year-old granddaughter, a gift from my oldest son.  My middle son is in his 3rd year of college, my youngest is in community college, and I am applying to graduate school. I am now at the optimal point to devote my time to graduate school.

I thank you for considering my application.

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For almost two decades now, I have supported myself and my family by helping applicants to graduate school draft eloquent and highly effective admission statements for degree programs BSW, MSW, DSW; and PHD. I am convinced that I have talent in this area as a bleeding heart, myself, a militant for healing and a lifelong learner; it is the stories of social workers that most intrigue me. Working on behalf of social workers keeps my heart engaged as well as my brain. 

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