Introducing Ashley Leeds!
Ashley is SSWAA’s incoming Student Representative on the Board of Directors for 2020. Ashley is a current MSW student at Columbia University in New York. She joined the Board back in the fall and has "jumped in with both feet" assisting with outreach to Universities and potential student members, joining the Membership Committee, and contributing her new ideas and energy! Here is a little bit about Ashley's journey thus far.
What led you to School Social Work?
My passion to serve others in vulnerable populations and incorporate a strengths-basd perspective led me to School Social Work. I am an advocate for working with children because I am aware that I am able to be part of their development at a young age as a School Social Worker, which sets a crucial foundation for the remainder of their life trajectory. I was previously interested in pursuing a career as an educator but decided that School Social Work and working with students in intimate settings best fits my career desires. Moreover, my mother and two aunts are in the field of social work and have introduced many social work opportunities to me.
Our Mission is : The School Social Work Association of America empowers school social workers and promotes the profession of school social work to enhance the social and emotional growth and academic outcomes of all students.
What do you think makes the SSWAA mission statement meaningful?
SSWAA's mission statement is meaningful because it focuses on recognizing students' strengths and emphasizes the correlation between social, emotional, and academic well-being. As identified in the mission statement, the school social worker forms connection with all students with whom they interact.
What is one of the reasons you joined SSWAA? What did you hope to get out of membership?
I joined SSWAA to set my foot in the School Social Work door as a student and gain insights and resources regarding School Social Work. I hope to receive a network of colleagues, professionals, and friends through membership. As a student member of SSWAA, I am exposed to behind the scenes details of School Social Work before entering the field, and I am grateful for learned observations through meetings and collaborations with other members.
What do you feel you can contribute to the profession and/or to SSWAA?
I feel that I can contribute my energy, positivity, work ethic, and kindness to the profession and to SSWAA. My innate characteristics align with qualities of School Social Work.
Where do you see yourself in two years? Or What are your career goals?
In two years, I see myself continually working on my career goals by working in a school setting and also working as a therapist in an agency and/or private practice on evenings and weekends. I also look forward to learning and growing through CEUs and professional development.
If you could rid the world of one thing, what would it be?
If I could rid the world of one thing, it would be loneliness. I wish that I could solve poverty and hunger and know that this is an ongoing effort. I believe that nobody deserves to feel alone or isolated. As humans, we all share our desire to feel connected, which I hope could alleviate feelings of being ostracized for students in a school setting and in society as a whole.
Knowing that school is demanding, what do you like to do for fun?
Knowing that school is demanding, I enjoy singing, creatively writing, and spending time with loved ones for fun. I value self-care and still work on fully taking time for myself. I am also appreciative of my friends and family who positively influence my self-care.