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Student Profile: Lemanski on Administration

Rebecca Lemanski, Administration Student  
I chose to attend the UConn School of Social Work because of its great reputation in preparing students to be engaged social workers and agents of change.

Rebecca Lemanski

Administration
Advanced – 2nd Year Field
Bachelor's Degree: Central Connecticut State University, BS in Elementary Education

I chose to attend the UConn School of Social Work (SSW) because of its great reputation in preparing students to be engaged social workers and agents of change. Back in 2000, I was working with high risk pregnant and parenting teens at the VNA. I loved serving the community and using education to empower and teach young women and families.  I knew I wanted a master’s in social work, so I applied at UConn SSW, however, to my dismay, I did not get accepted. I was devastated. However, I continued to work in the social work field for 10 more years until I finally got up enough courage to apply at UConn again, and guess what?  I got accepted!  Because of my experience in the field, I was able to apply for the Administration concentration. I chose this method because I wanted to challenge myself, get out of my comfort zone, and take my career to the next level.

My experience as a non-traditional student at UConn SSW has been incredibly gratifying.  For example, in my Managing People class we were given the opportunity to do a Leadership Self-Analysis. This project allowed me to reflect on my leadership style and validated how crucial it is for social workers to be leaders in our field, as well as being comfortable with our own power. The Leadership Self-Analysis also allowed me to see the value in mentorship. Seeking out a mentor is highly beneficial and can take your personal and professional growth the next level. Another class that I enjoyed was Qualitative Research. At first I didn’t think I was going to like it, however, after learning more about it from my enthusiastic professor, I found it to be an area of interest. Participatory Action Research, in particular, empowers marginalized populations to talk about their experiences and allows them the opportunity to have their voices heard in public policy forums.

Being involved in the school community is important to me. Coming into the school for my first year, I took a leadership role as the Co-Chair of the Student Health Organization, a sub-committee of the Graduate Student Organization (GSO).  Taking on this responsibility allowed me to becomemore involved in creating change on campus, as well as practicing leadership skills in a safe environment.

One of my most gratifying experiences came as a result of being involved with the GSO. Due to my leadership on campus, I was selected for a program called Leading Off Campus, with Leadership Greater Hartford. This unique experience allowed me to learn project management skills as well as how leadership practices relate to community leadership. We were given the opportunity to implement a community service project in Hartford and at the end of the program I received a Community Leadership Certificate.

My advice to future students would be to move out of your comfort zone, get involved in any way you can, meet new people, expand your horizons, and learn from everyone you encounter. Be not afraid to speak up and speak out, not only for yourself, but for others who have not yet found their voice!