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MSW, Immigrant Families, Bilingual California

The University of XXXX is my first choice for earning my MSW Degree because you are the established online leader in this field and I will be able to complete your program at the same time that I continue to fulfill my professional responsibilities as a Family Resource Specialist with XXXX Charities. Although I was born in California, this mattered little to the struggle faced by my family as I grew up since both of my parents were undocumented residents from Mexico. Working as a Family Resource Specialist for XXXX Charities in XXXX County in California has provided me with the opportunity to reflect upon my humble origins; and I am pleased that I have managed to turn many of the challenges faced by my family along the way into resources for my professional future. I have a keen sensitivity for the difficulties that are encountered raising and caring for children, particularly for Latinos and primary-Spanish-speaking mothers and their children. I am attracted to those who are vulnerable; I want to help them measure up to the hurdles that they face and avoid the pitfalls along the way.

Being the first member of my family to even enroll in college, my professional dream of earning the MSW Degree is also the dream of my entire family. It is important to us to give something back to the community that we have made our home and to remember the times when we were in need by helping others. A lot of fear surrounds not only undocumented adults but their children as well, whether or not they were born in America. There is little knowledge and understanding among many if not most Latino families of how the system works and the resources that are available and my family was no exception. My parents struggled mightily every day just to meet the basic needs of their 5 children: working in the fields, cleaning houses, and always doing side jobs, anything that was available. I have first-hand experience of what it is like to live on food stamps or to not know what to do when a family member is in desperate need of counseling. Thankfully, my parents have finally become citizens of the country in which they live, and they run a store and a fresh vegetable and fruit stand so we talk a lot about fresh fruit and vegetables.

Currently serving as the only Family Resource Specialist for XXXX Charities in XXXX County, California, I also stay very busy networking with surrounding counties as we often accept clients among the working poor from XXXX, XXXX,  and XXXX counties.  At our XXXX location we also offer immigration services and help individuals apply for citizenship and/or complete other immigration processes.  I particularly enjoy doing community outreach at least twice a week; usually with a food distribution project or at a local church, school, or community center, mostly educating the community about Calfresh (a nutrition program also known as food stamps) or connecting needy people with other resources as applicable. The goal of Calfresh outreach is to help families and individuals who fall under poverty guidelines to apply for the aid to which they are entitled. Calfresh promotes eating fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy lifestyle and it is an underutilized program that many people have misconceptions about. It is important that someone is there to clarify the realities of this program and to help low income families obtain food assistance.  I provide information, in both English and Spanish, about how people can save on groceries or just about any issue that is of concern to families. I do not always have the answer, but I enjoy the challenge of trying to answer every question to the best of my ability. In the office, I typically handle inbound calls, or referrals from partnering agencies dealing with families in need of food or rental assistance, connecting them to available local resources.

I am in charge of running two programs, in particular, a long term homeless prevention program that aims to support individual goals for financial stability and an eviction prevention program that provides support to successfully maintain housing for short-term periods. Clients enrolled in our programs participate in a 6-9 month journey to stability moving through the following stages: in depth needs assessment, personal goal setting, case management, financial education workshops, direct financial assistance with rent and utilities, and referrals/collaboration with partner agencies.  The clients that I work with are low-income residents who face eviction or need funds to secure stable housing, to prevent utilities shut-offs, or to feed their families. While many in our society tend to reject those residents who are undocumented, we work to enhance their dignity, improve their lives, and meet their needs, simply because these people are the most vulnerable among us. Since 1983, our organization has been laboring to help those whose needs are not met by our social welfare systems. Of course, the most difficult part of my job is that we always have far more people turning to us for support than we have monetary resources. Telling a family, for example, that there are no longer any funds to prevent their eviction is always a difficult task. I am learning to accept that I cannot help everyone and the best thing I can do is offer them other resources in the community that may be able to help them. Over these past few last years, I have educated myself on the scarcity of resources available for minorities in my community and I have committed myself to serving as an advocate for the unprivileged. I follow the wisdom and tenacity of Mahatma Gandhi, seeking to ‘be’ change in the world and this is why I love social work.

My work has taught me the value of helping others and inspired me to espouse and live up to very high professional and ethical standards that safeguard the human rights of the underserved and disadvantaged. I believe in the willingness to help others unconditionally, and serve and empower individuals, communities, groups who face inequality and injustice. Being enthusiastic and passionate about my work helps me to exercise my leadership skills, empowering both clients and employees to improve their performance, overcome hurdles, and resolve conflicts. In some ways, I feel that I was born into this work since I was working hard helping my family as a translator for everything that we had to do in English by the time that I was in the second or third grade. As a volunteer, I have worked with youth who had little hope and helped some of them to grow despite their most difficult circumstances, by realizing their potential. I believe in encouragement and sustainability in the development of skills and the cultivation of positive changes in the work ethic of my clients.

My parents’ work ethic taught me the value of hard work and the importance of family values and perseverance through struggle and I put this to work in the empowerment of minority families. As a Crisis Counselor for young adults and teenagers who lived in constant fear of deportation, I gave my all to support them and help them to think clearly and rationally about their future possibilities, empowering them with the knowledge of what is rightfully available to them.

My central long term goal is to create a youth mentoring program for low income, minority, children ages 9-15, emphasizing the importance education; mentors would provide encouragement through difficult times, teach goal setting, improve self-confidence, and develop communication skills through positive pursuits. I love my organization dearly and I seek to advance. In fact, it is my sincere hope that earning the MSW will help result in my being promoted to the position of Director of Family Supportive Services for XXXX County. Another long term project towards which earning my MSW Degree at UXX will go a long way towards helping me to accomplish is to offer internships for minorities from at-risk homes, through partnerships with local universities and community colleges.

Nearly 85% of my clients speak to me almost entirely in Spanish; sometimes I have flashbacks to my childhood, helping my parents with paperwork. Mothers with several children and babies in their arms are often abandoned by their partners with nothing. I have seen monolingual immigrant mothers care well for their children, however, with a little support and these happy stories that I reflect on drive me on every day.  The story of my own family is generally a success story. In what would have been my stellar, final year of my Bachelor’s program in Psychology, however, my 26-year-old brother was murdered; at the wrong place at the wrong time, he was stabbed while writing his bike home. The pain and grief of my parents, in particular, has helped me to achieve a balance that accepts tragedy as unavoidable and always seeks to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. But that year, this tragedy resulted in lower grades. I ask for special consideration under the circumstances and 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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