Conversations About My Future

Katie and AJ at food pantry

So this is it. The point in the year when it feels like a ticking clock is hanging in the air, just counting down to my last days in Syracuse, my last days as a FrancisCorps volunteer. How has it gone so quickly? 

I feel so overwhelmed thinking back on the year, how much has been accomplished, how much I have grown and learned. I have been so blessed to be a part of this community, and as I look towards the end of the year, I am trying to be present and soak up every last moment that I can. But there’s a big question, one that every volunteer, client, friend, and family member seems to be asking lately. A question I can’t quite avoid: What’s next?

Starting in the fall, I will be pursuing my Master’s in Social Work at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. I think back to the winter when I was applying to different programs, and I was so nervous and uncertain. Applying to a university like Case felt almost like tossing an application to the wind and just hoping that maybe I had a shot. When my acceptance came in, it felt like a bit of a dream, did that actually happen? When it came to making a decision about what I wanted to do, there was no question that the Holy Spirit was making some moves and giving me a nudge.

For some people, this is where the conversation ends, they have their answer. But for the more curious people who get past the question of what and where, it’s time to ask the more difficult question. Why Social Work? And what do I even want to do with a Social Work Degree?

This is where it gets tricky, the place where I don’t have all the answers and specifics. The other day, when I told someone I was getting my MSW, they dismissed me, saying that “Ah, you’re another one of those ones who wants to save the world.” It hurt to feel my interest so quickly dismissed and degraded, but it made me ask and reinforce myself again: Why do I want to do this? I didn’t start out in social work, but if there is one thing I know about my future, it’s that I want to spend it helping those who need it. And after spending a year working in a food pantry and soup kitchen, I have seen the need, and also recognized that more is needed than just a Band-Aid, a quick fix. I want to learn the frameworks, the skills, and the nuances to be able work on systemic, inherited problems that are affecting our neighborhoods, our people. I have loved being a part of an organization serving and working with volunteers to do good, but I also see that there is space to build on what we have, to educate and expand how we see the service we provide.

So maybe that means I’ll be working on a macro level with communities, or working one on one with individuals. Perhaps I’ll work with families, the aging, or people living with mental illness… I don’t know! It’s scary to feel like there are gaps in the plan, or that there’s uncertainty. But it’s all about how you frame it for yourself. It’s not uncertainty, but rather openness and flexibility to wherever the Spirit guides me. And honestly, I’m just excited to have these next two years in school and interning in the field to build on what I’ve learned here in Syracuse. There is so much I still have yet to learn! I know I want to help improve the lives of the people around me, to learn their stories, their issues, and help to bring them dignity and long-term change and joy (even if it takes some more time in school and more practice to get there!). So yeah, I guess you could say I am interested in saving the world, but perhaps just one person, one community, one step at a time.

Categories: General

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