Can you describe a little about your journey after GSV? What steps brought you to your current position?
After my GSV year in Los Angeles, I still had the desire to work in South America. I contacted Good Shepherd Sisters in Peru and they invited me to live in community with two Good Shepherd Sisters in Chimbote and join them in their mission working with vulnerable women and children in the area. I lived and worked with them from August 2005 to December 2005.
When I returned I wanted to continue this mission and worked as a child advocate for a Latina Domestic Violence Program. From that position, I became a Spanish teacher, but realized that teaching wasn’t my calling. I returned to grad school to pursue a career in social work to continue working with disadvantaged and vulnerable populations, the people my heart is with.
What motivated your career choice? Was it planned or unexpected?
Working with the extremely poor and disadvantaged in Peru and survivors of domestic violence both in Los Angeles and Philadelphia enforced in me the calling to be a social worker. I began teaching, because I needed to earn more money. I left teaching because it wasn’t my calling. I feel fulfilled and inspired in the social work program at USC. I know it is where I am supposed to be.
Can you describe a day-in-the-life for yourself? What do you most enjoy?
My days are busy with reading, writing papers and working with my clients. I am also secretary for the International Social Work Caucus, so I plan and participate in events that spread awareness of international issues.
When I come home at night I talk to some of my siblings by internet or phone. I have dinner, watch tv and crochet to relax. I am currently living with one of my old community members from our GSV year, Beth Thornton, who is the support person for the current LA volunteers. That keeps me connected to GSV and I am thankful for that.
Has your GSV experience continued to have an effect on your personal or professional decisions? If so, how?
GSV had a major impact on my life choices. It showed me what social work is and the need for social justice in our world. My experience in Chimbote left a lasting impression on my life that continues to call me back. Just last month, I took 16 students from our MSW program to do service work in Chimbote for one week. For many it was their first exposure to extreme poverty and a reality they never knew existed. They were able to see the need for international social work and are currently helping advocate for an international sub-concentration at USC School of Social Work.
Any future plans or other news you would like to share?
I would love to continue working with the people in Chimbote in some capacity. I am hoping to eventually become more involved in international social work and would love for USC to continue an annual service trip to Chimbote.