Aviva Ron, MSW student with a concentration in Community Organization, chooses International Issues in Social Work and Social Work with Women and Children in Families for her focused areas of study
Bachelor’s Degree: University of Massachusetts Amherst, Social Thought and Political Economy with a minor in Women Studies and a concentration in Equine Studies from the University of Limerick, Ireland
My experience as a first year student is difficult to put into words but knowing that I gained so much during this time period it is important to share that information with other students. Hearing about other students’ experiences influenced my perceptions of the program and the community as I entered. I researched different masters programs knowing that I was looking for an academic program that addressed both policy and community level issues. When I read the description for the Community Organization program I knew that it was exactly what I was looking for.
The courses I have taken were motivating and interesting. Every course had challenging aspects whether it was the material or a challenge on a personal level. In addition, professors always found ways to make the coursework personal so that I was able to think about applications as opposed to only thinking in the abstract. My favorite course so far has been the International Social Work and War, Militarism, Peace & Social Work elective because I was constantly challenged both by the academic material and personally because I had to address my beliefs and preconceived notions and apply the learning to practical application in the field.
My field practice experience at Ebony Horsewomen, Inc. was extremely interesting because I was constantly challenged with race, class, and gender issues that until this time I had only been faced with in the classroom. By working at a grassroots organization I was able to experience local level community organization and outreach. This work made me feel like I really made a positive influence on the community.
The role of my professors and advisor has been crucial since the first day I entered the University. They recognize the potential in their students and go out of their way to ensure academic productivity. My professors have granted me opportunities that I would have never dreamed of without their support, such as traveling to Chicago for the 20th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, being a fourth co-author for an article on a commentary that is set to be published in the Journal of Social Work, and accepting a second year field placement at the United Nations. For the opportunities they have afforded me and professional career they are helping me to obtain, I have the upmost respect and gratitude for my advisor, professors, and peers.
During my first year at the School I served as a work-study student for Dr. Libal, a co-chair of International Students and Company, SSW Drive to Community action team member, member of the Jewish Social Workers Alliance, student member for the UCONN SSW Haiti Coalition, and a member of Study-group-Sundays. I plan to continue in many of these roles for the upcoming year.
My advice to new and prospective students is to get involved! It may seem overwhelming to take on additional commitments in addition to courses and personal life, but I can honestly say I have learned the most from involvement outside of the classroom. The classroom is the theoretical framework but it comes to life when you do something with it. Getting involved in the student organizations also helps as a decompression, it makes coming to school more than just coming to class, but something to genuinely look forward to. I have benefited immensely from my work-study position. I would not have nearly the curiosity or confidence to pursue academic and professional paths without the support of professors and peers.