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MSW, Addictions, Loss of Family in Death

Why Social Work: I lost my husband unexpectedly 3 years ago when I was 3 months pregnant; he was 36 years old. In a horrific turn of events, my mother passed away exactly one month later. I was left terrified and alone. These events radically changed the course of my life. I remember thinking while driving up to Massachusetts to spend the Christmas holiday with my husband’s family how truly wonderful life was and how blessed I felt. I was crazy about him and finally pregnant. Not long after our arrival, my husband was upstairs resting from the drive while I was showing my in-laws the amazing sonogram pictures of their first grandchild taken the day before. When I went upstairs to wake him up for dinner, I found him dead - apparently from a complex condition that we knew nothing about.

My old life died with my husband that day. Now a widow and a few months later a single mom, I stayed with my parents for a while after my husband passed away as I was not able to go back to the house that I shared with him. I crawled in bed with my mom and stayed there in complete disbelief and excruciating heartache for days until she fell ill. She stopped caring for me and I started caring for her, as she became sicker and sicker with each passing day. Mom had a history of heart failure and refusal to go to the doctor because she did not want to be hospitalized. When she became sick with the flu, she passed away in her sleep.

I spent the remainder of my pregnancy in a severe depression and unbelievable pain. My belly grew bigger and I was absolutely terrified of being a mother alone with no one to help me or even share the experience. From that point on, I slowly, gradually, sought inner strength and peace within me, healing, growing, maturing and reaching out in new directions in search of understanding and spiritual growth. I have made enormous progress. My losses have prepared me to help others who have lost, those struggling to recover from personal tragedy, especially the loss of loved ones. Most importantly, perhaps, I feel confident that I have much to give to the Social Work profession in terms of coming to a better understanding of the relationship between trauma and loss, on the one hand, and substance abuse and addictions on the other. My familiarity with this area is reinforced by the fact that my family members have addiction problems – with the exception of my mother who is no longer with me.

Why Now/Expectations: As a result of my own great personal loss, I have increasingly come to appreciate how life can change in a moment, the blink of an eye. I have known great hardship and tragedy and that is what drives me to a career in Social Work. My special interest in preparing myself for cutting-edge practice in the area of recovery from addiction has also been inspired for some time now by my father, brother, and sister who all suffer from addiction to pain killers.

In my search for answers, I have read a great deal about addiction, trauma, healing, and recovery and I hope to have the privilege of counseling those who suffer from trauma and/or addictions in the future as an MSW professional. I feel strongly that this is the right time for me to go to graduate school to prepare myself for making my maximum social contribution and I have my heart set on XXU not only because of the sheer excellence of your program and my profound respect for your mission and direction, but also the vast social resources of New York City. I crave a full immersion experience in diversity and exposure to and wrestling with issues of inequality and social justice; thus, XXU and NYC are perfect, particularly with respect to field practice opportunities in addictions counseling.

I have also been inspired by my current volunteer position at the XXXX Addiction Treatment Cente​r, ​working with individuals who are currently living with addiction. I have watched people walk in off the street, terrified, isolated, and completely frustrated with their disease and what it has taken from their lives. It has been a great experience for me to welcome these people in with open arms and a welcoming smile. XXXX is a safe, warm environment for people struggling from addiction. ​​

Despite the fact that my career heretofore has been in the area of business and marketing, I now hope to be admitted to study towards a Masters of Social Work at XXXX University so that I can achieve the ultimate preparation for a new career as an addictions counselor, helping people to free themselves from these vicious chains that destroy not just the lives of individuals but also entire families. I addition to Hazelden, I have done some volunteer work in other areas related to social work, with New York Cares, for example, making collages with elderly people suffering from dementia. One woman stands out in my mind; miserable when she walked in, she didn't want to do anything. After we had spent some time together, however, we were laughing and she was smiling as well. She told me I had made her day. We made each other’s day.

Attribute Development: I see my strongest and most valuable attributes, in addition to compassion and empathy, to be determination, strength, a very high level of motivation, and a tenacious desire to help everyone who I come into contact with that is suffering, in a professional or volunteer capacity, to the extent to which I am able to do so. Furthermore, I look forward to continuing to cultivate these attributes throughout the course of my professional lifetime. I have been raising our child as a single mom now for the past 2 1/2 years. I was working in sales when I lost my husband, selling engagement rings and wedding bands, which became very painful after the loss of Justin. Thus, my pursuit of new career directions began almost immediately and with urgency – after taking a few weeks to mourn and heal a bit. Getting my act together quickly was especially important since I had also lost my principal source of economic security for myself and my baby. I also learned to be strong and resilient growing up with a father who lived for many years as a functioning addict until a car accident almost cost him his life. I loved and respected him because he always tried to be a good father. So, it was a special privilege to organize and execute the intervention that finally sent my dad off to rehab at 71 years old. This experience also made me stronger and I learned a great deal as well that will help me to excel in addictions counseling.

My brother is doing well in recovery and this has also inspired me, since I have witnessed up-close how rehabilitation and the fellowship of AA and NA have the power to help and heal, because they have saved my brother as well as my father. This leaves me with a very keen desire to engage professionally in the area of addiction recovery. My sister has been in and out of rehab for years, never achieving anything close to a definitive recovery. The case of my sister leaves me especially curious and anxious to immerse myself in the literature concerning why some are able to recover and not others. I want to help people free themselves from the disease of addiction, as many as possible.

I began seeing a grief counselor shortly after losing my mother and husband because I needed professional guidance myself. Speaking with her has helped me to find strength within that I never knew I had. It has taken some time, but she has helped me come back to life, find a new purpose, and now create new life. Her impact on me has guided me to want to help others who have experienced trauma and grief, to help people create new lives for themselves the way that my grief counselor has helped me to recreate my own. I have a deep compassion and understanding of people who are going through difficult times. I understand pain and I hope to use that to have a lasting impact on people in need. I increasingly find myself intrigued with and delving into the highly negative and complex symbiosis that exists between trauma and addictions, strategies for interrupting the downward spiral.​ ​

Social Issue: I want to study the many ways in which poverty itself can lead people to a sense of powerlessness and hopelessness that results in addiction and self harm, dropping out of school, risky behavior, crime, and other negative coping mechanisms. As a social worker I hope to promote positive change by helping people find the financial, health, and social assistance that they made need. In particular, I want to help people who suffer from addiction and/or or trauma get to the root of the problem and access the resources that they need to recover.

Career Goals: Most of all, I have my heart set on attending XXU because of your strong focus on clinical work. I am interested in direct practice, counseling individuals and XXU provides students with an excellent opportunity to do that, with a lot of clinical social work electives. I very much appreciate the wide variety of field placement opportunities at XXU so that I can get precisely the real life experience that is the best fit for my interests. I am so excited to begin, putting my knowledge from the classroom to work almost immediately, preparing for field practice and bringing our experience back to the classroom for discussion. Finally, I very much appreciate the fact that the Social Work Professors at XXU are not just fantastic teachers, but also outstanding members of the community that are engaged with progressive social change and can share unlimited real life experiences in the classroom.

Now 36 years old and the mother of a perfect child in good health, I count myself fortunate in many ways. Happy, healthy, adjusted, and full of energy, it is my time to prepare myself for cutting-edge performance in research as well as practice. Fully dedicated to lifelong learning, I look forward to many decades to come giving my all to the study of the complex and gruesomely negative symbiosis that exists between trauma and addiction, searching for strategies to interrupt what is all too often a downward spiral.

I thank you for considering my application to XXU.

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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. 

With My Son Davy!