Kyle Pinto, MSW student with a concentration in Administration, talks about why he chose to pursue a Master of Social Work at UConn
Bachelor’s Degree: Providence College, Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Sociology
I refused to be a social worker. That was, of course, when I believed a social worker to be defined as one who was essentially overworked, under paid, and devotes their entire working career to helping families get by. This perception of social work developed from the countless TV shows that portrayed social workers as exhausted women in a busy office trying to teach families what they must do to be happy. After a few ethical dilemmas, idealistic social commentary, and three commercial breaks, the family would leave the noisy office happy and ready to take on the world. Meanwhile, the frazzled social worker smiled as she returned to her paperwork. I did not feel that a career like this would warrant the workload of graduate school.
Instead, I had a passion to make real social change. Not knowing where I would end up, I sought out work that was true to my heart. I began working with children and families through a specialized foster care agency. Don’t ask me how, but I somehow convinced myself that this was not social work. After a few ethical dilemmas, idealistic social commentary, but no commercial breaks, I took the opportunity to travel abroad for several months. I soon became aware of two very important issues. First, I was wrong! I had fallen in love with social work without even realizing it. Second, social work is not at all what I had learned from the TV shows. Real change does not happen when families are simply taught how to live better and be happy. Rather, our society as a whole must be educated on how to change.
These two lessons learned seemed to align with the principles and philosophy of the UCONN School of Social Work. I discovered, through the stories of past students, that this school had a distinct passion for social work, which would serve to motivate all who walk through the doors. This school also stood out from the rest, because the curriculum emphasized the necessity of macro social work or working with communities and policies.
My first year as a student opened my eyes to a whole new level of social work, which confirmed for me that I had made the right decision in going to UCONN. I was exposed to the true context of social policy, the theories to be aware of when working with individuals, as well as the theories that help to understand society and its impact on the individual. One professor, in particular, had challenged my understanding of institutions in society so profoundly that I have now a completely different outlook on the way in which I approach my work.
Even though I live about an hour-and-a-half from campus, the school has made it easy for me to participate in various educational and social activities throughout the year. It was especially nice to witness the Inauguration of President Obama on a big screen together with classmates and faculty between classes. I have even been inspired to become more involved in the Student Organization group on campus during my second year.
My advice to anyone who has ever thought there might be some value to human relationships would be to disregard the perception of social work as one-dimensional. Anyone with passion for their community will find a multitude of paths open to them after the hard work involved in achieving a graduate degree in social work.