Written by: Shercee Barrett
Every step that I have taken in my career, I did not know where I was going. The fact that I kept going has brought me here, to a place where I can now say I have accomplished more than ever imagined. When I first started graduate school, it was a challenge because it is expensive, and the fear of meeting academic requirements such as grades was daunting. I did not want to be a student who invested in so much without knowing where to take my career. In all honesty, I still do not. I foresee myself being involved in many socio-economic issues that affect my community. Realizing that I have this passion for helping communities like mine drives me to continue this journey. Now I can proudly say I am the first in my family to have come this far and earned my tassel by graduating from college.
My time with SSWAA has been a great learning experience. At first, I did not like the idea of a virtual internship since my MSW program was already virtual; but I am happy that I took a chance and was open-minded to this opportunity. I have learned things about leadership, management skills, interpersonal skills and more. I have also learned things about myself, personally and academically, that I still need to work on. It is all a learning process and I was truly blessed to be surrounded by Executive Director Rebecca Oliver, the SSWAA Board, state leaders, and members who have been so supportive.
Here are some things I have learned that I encourage others to consider:
1. Don’t hide from your mistakes. Yes, it is embarrassing when you make a mistake. But take the opportunity to acknowledge it, understand the mistake, and make changes in order to do better the next time.
2. Be open to change - DO NOT GET DISCOURAGED! Not everything is going to go as planned. This is a moment where you can get creative, find other resources, and seek opportunities to accomplish your goals.
3. Get as uncomfortable as possible. In being uncomfortable you are allowing yourself to grow mentally and learn things that you did not know before or possibly were afraid to do.
4. Communicate. Being open and honest about how you are feeling, what you do not understand, and when you need a break is crucial when working with a team.
Leaving great places and great people is always a bittersweet feeling. I want to thank everyone at SSWAA for being a light in my journey.
As nervous as I am about what the future holds for me, I know my personality, my determination, and clearly finding my “why” will get me to where I want to be. So, I share this to say, find what you are passionate about and pursue what is deep in your soul because those are the things that really matter. Like a bird, we can soar high above the trees because:
"Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without the words, and never stops at all."- Emily Dickinson
Shercee Barrett is a University of Southern California Master's of Social Work 2020 Graduate and was a intern at the School Social Work Association of America. Shercee’s goals are to continue her profession in macro-level social work where she can dedicate her passion to working with women and children’s health and well-being.