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Having been born raised in the Brazil of the late 1980s and 90s, I have seen and lived through the enormous disparities in my homeland between the haves and have not's, both in terms of socioeconomics and education. Only the first eight years of school at the time were mandatory and change is only coming slowly; schools were not always accessible and many were not free. Moreover, many parents did not see the value of sending their children to school, preferring their children to work to deal with immediate household needs, with some children forced into labor as young as three years of age.
I developed a sense of social justice from a very young age, an awareness of what was going on around me, and how exceptionally wrong it was. At the age of seven, I began my social work. I decided that it was unfair that a group of poverty-stricken children did not have their Christian education in a walking distance of one hour from my house. Every week I went to them, bringing Bible stories and teachings, hygiene awareness and promoting food drives. Thus began my constant fight of social injustice, empowering communities and standing up for their rights. Since that time, I have not stopped expressing my compassion for my fellow human beings, and their material, psychological and educational needs.
Emigrating to America when I was XXX, we made a promise to our parents that we would complete our education in the US at all costs. Chasing the American Dream with a pocketful of hopes was not easy. What I went through, what I now know is called acculturation was only compounded by inner-city issues including poverty, racism, discrimination, and language issues. In Brazil, we had many similar issues, mainly between being black or a Brazilian Indian, with socioeconomics clearly dividing racial groups. Overall, I have walked more than a mile in the shoes of the immigrant, and believe this has aided me greatly in my professional, academic and volunteer work, increasing my compassion and greater appreciation for the amazing diversity America shows.
I bring with me to the XXX program a solid academic foundation in Psychology, an excellent place to begin building my Social Services education. Pursuing my undergraduate degree at night while working ten hours a day as a housecleaner taught me more than humility, but time management skills, and is solid proof of my desire to develop myself, the importance I place on education and making my dreams come true.
For seven years, I dedicated my volunteer energies as a co-organizer of a XXX, increasing my leadership, communication, interpersonal, organizational and planning skills. To help our immigrant families - children, youth and couples - we organized educational seminars, focusing on immigration issues, health and healthcare, education, and parent orientation. Additionally, I was in charge of budgeting, food drives and supervising fundraisers for African organizations. Even outside of the Church, I helped newly emigrated families in any way I could, finding housing, jobs, schools for children and translating. More importantly, our congregation began with only XXX attendants. XXX years later, we had ten times that number. I had proven to myself my ability, and the absolute need for more social programming to address the ongoing needs of incoming immigrants.
Currently, I am a Family Worker for North Shore Head Start, bringing my unique experiences to bear aiding American, Portuguese and Hispanic families, aiding them in applying for health insurance, transitional housing, food stamps, and obtaining food, clothes, cash assistance as well as XXX classes. Additionally, we help families maintain healthy functioning at home, by providing parental education and workshops on improving children's behavior at home. I feel though that at my current academic level, I will quickly exhaust every avenue of promotion and challenge in my work. Working for XXX has only left me wanting to give more and where the XXX program begins.
Graduate Social Work education is a more than a logical and natural step for my career; it is an extension of my professional and volunteer exposure and experiences. Proof of my academic ability and the seriousness with which I will approach my studies is apparent from my undergraduate success in a display of intense will, not to mention that I am now at XXX, considered to be a mature student. I feel that my experiences working as a Family Worker and in the Brazilian Church have given me the necessary exposure to handle the emotional and psychological strains of working with clients and communities that are oftentimes facing the most difficult challenges of their lives. I consider field education and coursework to not be challenges, as much as opportunities to increase my theoretical understanding and exposure.
XXX represents the ideal for my higher education. Ever since I came to America, I have dreamt of attending XXX. Ever since I heard XXX's mission statement, I have felt that the two of us have had the same value system, particularly multiculturalism, community empowerment, social justice and a commitment to the issues facing inner city, or urban populations. My entire volunteer and professional career has been dedicated to these very same ideals, and exactly where I envision directing my energies post-graduation.
Nine years of social work has developed many abilities that will translate perfectly to my career in Social Services. Working for the XXX as I have outlined above, developed my leadership, communication, interpersonal, organizational and planning skills. Furthermore, I helped identify needs in the immigrant community, design educational seminars and implement them, with a close eye on budget issues. Working for XXX introduced me to insurance issues as well as basic social services that are available to families in need. XXX will help me further refine these raw abilities, increase my awareness and resourcefulness in identifying services, and develop my ability to more actively help families maintain healthy functioning in the home, to help educate and empower them through sustainable living skills. More specifically, XXX's program, with an emphasis on XXX, will strengthen my community organization and education skills, as well as community planning and program development abilities.
Graduate education will prepare me for the next chapter of my career, giving me the tools, confidence and training that I need to be not only an effective social services provider, but also a person who can bring about much needed change in the urban immigrant population, one that is only growing every day.
Social Work as a profession has been a straight path for me, from the time I could walk, and by the time I could see the difference between right and wrong in society, I was all the more resolved to be the person who would help bring about change. This has been the force that has driven my entire career, be it for payment or for doing the right thing at the right time for those in need, in my community and in Africa. Moreover, there is an ongoing need in the urban community of Boston, the Portuguese and Spanish speaking communities, a need for someone to stand up for their social and economic rights. To this end, to their tomorrow and the people that will come after them, I aim to run organizations that are open for a multicultural, experimental and democratic leadership. More specifically, I foresee becoming a director of a XXX Program.
XXX's urban mission is a reflection of the compassion, passion and sincere hopes I have for the Spanish-speaking and Portuguese communities in inner city XXX. For years, I have looked across from XXX, our community of immigrants, Easties, to the downtown and have marveled at the skyscrapers. There are no answers to racism, discrimination or ending social disparities in the view, no way to grab the other side of XXX and drag it closed. Even then, would this actually solve all the social problems that affect the immigrant every day of their lives? Only through empowering the immigrant (not just the XXX) being the guide through the tangled streets of social services can the underserved become contributors to society. Much more than this, every immigrant, from whichever corner of the world they come from, comes with a dream for a better life, an education, and a chance at happiness. My goal, as it has always been, is to make sure that as many people as possible get that chance, to be able to hold their heads up, with pride and a belief that they really can make it. As someone who has been there and has made it this far, I will be more than a guide, but a role model, friend, and advocate. Thank you for your time and consideration.