most common words and phrases i’ve heard in grad school:

  • i’m so tired
  • do you know what we are supposed to do?
  • how many references did you have?
  • will there be food?
  • i haven’t started yet
  • have you started yet?
  • the professor hasn’t emailed me back 
  • i’m so hungry
  • caffeine
  • i hate research
  • how long did it take you?
  • i don’t even care anymore

I graduated from USC with two Bachelor’s degrees in Sociology and Chican@/Latin@ Studies this May 2016. Everything I have accomplished has been for my mom, mi reina! This is only the beginning. Masters of Social Work is next. See you for round two, USC!

Proud Mexicana and let me tell you, you can do ANYTHING you set your mind to!

Dear Social Work Student

I see you. Yes you, the social work student that at 8:00 PM is struggling to keep their eyes open. The social work student that isn’t even sure what fun looks like anymore…oh yes, I see you. I see you because I’ve been you…..and this is my message to you.

Welcome to the world of social work. For whatever reason, your life has lead you here to work in the service of others and I couldn’t be prouder. I understand your frustrations with going to school for social work because in a field of helping others sometimes it feels like you can’t even help yourself. I have felt the shame of being at my internship and realizing you are so tired that you could fall asleep during one of the most important points of your day. I understand what it’s like to leave an internship, go to work to make a little money, then go back to your internship the next morning after staying up to work on papers. I understand feeling like you’ve missed out on being able to be social even though social is even in the name of social work. God, do I understand.

And I still see you…

The worst part is, sometimes it feels like interning, class, papers, studying, tests, and work are all things you have to do just to get to the point where you can add BSW/MSW to the end of your name. You’re right, it is everything you have to do but you are doing SO MUCH MORE. You wake up in the morning and go to an internship where everyone present may not appreciate you to your full extent yet you still take everything in like a sponge. You work tirelessly through your assessing and intervening. You may have counseled the mentally ill or ensured that the patient down the hall has the resources they need to be able to leave the hospital. You may have counseled someone as they received their cancer diagnosis or ensured that your dialysis patient is adjusting to their new life…yes, I see you. You may have just ensured that a family had food on the table, clothes on their backs, and even a roof over their head. You may just followed someone to the edge of life then masterfully walked them back by reminding them how much they are needed or how much is left. You may have saved a child’s life from a home that does not appreciate their beauty and importance. Oh yes, I still see you. You may have just assisted a mother that lost her only child, or a child that lost their only parent. You may have just helped someone pass from this life to the next with honor and dignity surrounded by their loved ones. The list goes on an on because your job never is really done. Even though you feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day….you have donated those hours to countless lives that will never forget you. I see you for your ability to make lasting change, to shape the world, and still function (even when you think you can’t) and there is no amount of praise that I could give that would amount up to what you deserve.

I wish I could tell you that you will never have to worry about feeling how you do when you graduate but it’s not in me to lie to you. It will get better, that I promise, but there will be days when you feel like you have given everything you had. There will be days when you think you will pass out from exhaustion…BUT YOU WILL MAKE IT. You will go to work and feel unappreciated but walk out knowing that you are the glue that holds so much together. Take care of yourself because you are truly a gift to the world. Treat yourself with the kindness, compassion, and care you would give your clients….you deserve it,