By D\’atra Franklin PPPP Last night I cried for what seemed like forever. I cried for all the times I was misunderstood. For the times I was left alone. For all the times I was hurt. I cried because I was so different from my friends. P Being different made me feel alone, and maybe if I could be more like them, I could be happy. P But how could I make myself like everybody else and still be true to me? It was so confusing. P Why wouldnt my tears cease to fall from my bloodshot eyes? PPPP From the time I was seven and I lost my mother, I felt different. I felt like my being on this earth was for a reason and that I was destined to do something great with my life. I did not fit in with my family. P I spoke different, and I thought different. P I had goals that no one could fathom. How stupid that a child would dream of saving the world, a world that she had not yet even experienced. P But that would all change on my 14
birthday. PPPP I was abused emotionally, mentally, and physically at the hands of people who were supposed to guide me in the right direction, love me unconditionally, and help me to reach my goals, encourage, and never neglect me. Instead, I was emotionally abandoned. My childhood was taken from me. I was made to clean, cook, and take care of my infant sister and brother. I wasnt a child learning to live; I was a slave with no worth in my own home. I had to leave, and I thought that any place on earth was better than living with my father and stepmother. Whether it was homeless or in a shelter, I knew I deserved to be treated better. PPPP When I was fourteen, I ran away from home. I didnt have anywhere to go, and I didnt know what I was going to do, but one last strike of my stepmother\’s hand drove me into the streets of West Palm Beach, and the streets were no place for a fourteen-year-old girl.
P But I didnt care, and I fled that hellhole so the voice inside of me, crying out for something better, wouldnt die. PPPP I lived with extended family members and a few friends until I found a shelter that would take me in. I lived in that shelter on and off for three years. It was home. I felt loved there. I made friends, and I even got a job. However, school was suffering, and I had to start anew and focus on school. When I was seventeen, I went into a more stable group home environment and lived there until I was eighteen. I was so happy there I actually got to celebrate Christmas, something other kids took for granted, but to me it was new and amazing. I was finally in a stable living environment. PPPP And here I am now, at a job that I love in the social work field, where Ive been asked many times; Why do you want to be a social worker? The answer is quite simple. I want to be a social worker because I have a passion and need to help people. P My passion stems from years of abuse and neglect. P My need comes from knowing that changing the world starts with helping one person and being able to empathize with them. I have been in their shoes. I want to be a social worker because it feels right. I enjoy seeing the smiles on kids\’ faces when they get to see their parents or family members who they havent seen in weeks, months, and even years. Those smiles are what make my pain and sad experiences tolerable. PPPP I can say that being a social worker was never in my plans. I wanted to be a high school history teacher, and I thought I could change the world by sparking the love of learning in children, making history come alive. P But then I took a job in the social work field, and I instantly knew that this is what I was meant to do.
This is what makes me different. All over the world, there is and will always be abuse. Thats the reality of it, but here I am working toward changing a childs reality one day at a time, changing my knowledge one class at a time, and changing my life one step at a time. It all starts with me, and while I may not be able to save the entire world, I saved myself and by saving myself, I will be able to save others. D\’atra Franklin\’s mother died when she was a young child, requiring her to take care of herself from an early age. She moved from relative to relative and friend to friend, which forced her to become self-sufficient to survive and eventually go into foster care as a teen. She aged out of care and became independent. She then enrolled in college, graduated with her associate\’s degree, and went on to Florida Atlantic University to earn her bachelor\’s degree. She loves to write, read, and dance. This article is sponsored by Our Lady of the Lake University. If you want an in-demand career that lets you make a real difference in the world, there\’s never been a better time to become a social worker. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, available social work positions are expected to grow 19% over the next decade, a faster rate of growth than most other occupations. In most cases, you will need a Master of Social Work ( MSW ) degree to become a social worker. Many schools offer online study for students wanting to earn an MSW. If you need a little more persuasion, here are four reasons why you should consider social work careers now. 1. Increasing demand Social workers are in demand, because US demographics are changing. First, the. By 2050, 88. 5 million Americans will be aged 65 or older, but only 5%of America\’s half a million social workers specialize in gerontology.
Also, as more people use the healthcare system, hospitals will need more social workers for care coordination and follow-up. Second, immigration is transforming US demographics. The UN estimates that two million people per year, over the next 35 years, will move from poorer to developed nations; half of those will move to the US. By 2050, will make up over 50% of the US population. Social workers from. Finally, 83% of social workers are female, and many organizations are actively recruiting male social workers. They worry that male clients in need of assistance may be less comfortable reaching out to female social workers, and they want male clients to have case workers that can understand their unique needs and challenges. If you\’re a male looking to become a social worker, it\’s a good time to enter the field. 2. Changes in service delivery New technology and new approaches to societal problems are changing the shape of social work careers. For example, new healthcare models, like the patient-centered medical home, rely on social workers as care coordinators. Technologies like cloud computing, electronic health records and mobile devices help social workers coordinate care between doctors, nurses, pharmacists, home health aides and family caregivers. If you enjoy technology and using it to improve lives, social work is a good career move. Public-private partnerships (PPPs) have also created opportunities to improve communities. Social workers might find themselves working with local businesses or other corporate partners, which increases their resources for helping their clients. In addition to working in existing PPPs, you could develop your own innovative programs to serve the community. 3.
Flexible career options Social workers often start out specializing in a certain client population. As your social work career evolves, you can make changes without completely changing careers. You can work with new populations, perhaps switching from working with disabled children to assisting senior citizens. Also, you could switch environments, transitioning from government agency work to offering counseling as a private practitioner. Many social workers enjoy good healthcare benefits, and those who work with public agencies can take advantage of pension programs. However, social workers play roles in hospitals, substance abuse clinics, schools, assisted living centers and many other environments. To switch specialties, you could earn and grow your career with minimal financial investment. Even if you stay in social work your whole life, you can challenge yourself with different types of work. 4. Opportunities to make a difference Social work is undeniably stressful, because you witness many challenges firsthand. You might have to help families living in poverty, parents with drug problems or young people who are turning to crime. You might also witness mistreatment of senior citizens or meet victims of sexual violence. Social work careers are not for the faint of heart, but they are for those who want to make a difference. Few careers offer you the opportunity to be an advocate and a positive force for change the way that choosing to become a social worker can. As a social worker, you\’d be in demand in a challenging, flexible and rewarding profession. If you\’re just starting to plan for college or if you\’re a professional looking for a change, there\’s never been a better time to give social work a chance.