I had my doubts that with so little information Heather will be able to do a good job. I was wrong. She researched and completed the gaps beautifully! Very quickly she did a great first draft of my Personal Statement for a part-time MA in the UK, and delivered a fantastic finished letter. I can’t recommend Heather enough and I hope to have the chance to work with her again.Elena A.
Heather was a pleasure to work with. I was very demanding with my statements and she was patient and was able to make excellent suggestions to include as part of my statements. Heather has great attention to detail and she researched around the subject area to get a better understanding the task ahead. Will work with her again.Victor G.
LETTER OF ADMISSION
I served my compulsory military service in Israel as a “soldier-teacher.” I was first stationed in the CITY NAME at day-care centers and schools with children with special needs, many of whom had emerged from the most traumatic homes and families. Their issues included extreme poverty, parental neglect and abuse, verbal and physical violence, crime, and drug abuse. These children also struggled with severe learning deficits and great difficulties creating healthy social ties. I was shortly confronted with the struggles and complexities of real life. Progress was partial, slow, and gradual, but—unlike my fantasies about changing the world—tangible. This experience transformed such intellectual concepts as socioeconomic disparities and cultural differences into very concrete and substantive life experiences.
Soon after my military service ended, my undergraduate studies in psychology began. I was particularly interested in psychopathology. By then I had some notion of the gap between theory and practice, and I wanted to experience the practical aspects of fieldwork. I started working at the NAME OF INSTITUTION in YEAR, and the next two years proved to be the most significant experience in my professional life so far. Participants in the program, aged 18 to 23, usually joined the therapeutic community after periods of hospitalization. Some of what makes the community at NAME OF INSTITUTION special is that the rehabilitation process is a common endeavor in which both participants and staff are involved. As a social-therapeutic counselor, my role was not only to work at the group level and support healthy dynamics between the participants, but also to help each individual with the personal challenges of integration and rehabilitation. The power and enormous therapeutic potential of group dynamics was a discovery for me. NAME OF INSTITUTION presented me with the opportunity to participate and lead groups in a myriad of configurations and formats. Under the guidance of the professional staff, I was able to observe, understand, and help initiate this powerful mechanism of change.
Although there were often moments of crisis—when clients were experiencing psychotic episodes, suicidal thoughts, or other self-harming impulses—most of the work concentrated on developing skills to cope with such everyday tasks as waking up in the morning, cleaning, cooking, running errands, using public transport, and improving on hygiene practices. I learned that there are no “sick people,” but rather persons dealing with illnesses who seek to be part of society. I felt that it was important for me to be involved not only in the “being” aspect of therapy, but also in its “doing” aspect. This experience has led me to conclude that becoming a social worker will be the best expression of my personal and professional passions—to contribute in a meaningful, long-term way to the overlooked, disadvantaged and most vulnerable people among us.
With regard to my intellectual and personal attributes, I think that what perhaps characterizes me the most, in a manner relevant to social work, is care and persistence. Persistence is something I discovered in myself (or acquired) not only during my working experience, as I have just described, but also during my studies. As a diagnosed dyslectic, my success in academia was not to be taken for granted. But my intellectual curiosity and desire to widen and deepen my understanding of people, as individuals and groups, propelled me through my studies. I ended up graduating with honors. Confronting my personal challenges, I also became more confident when supporting others in their own difficulties.
Both care and persistence, however, have their limits. I remember a conversation with one of the program participants at NAME OF INSTITUTION with whom I had been working closely. “Sometimes you can be a real nag,” she straightforwardly remarked at some stage. When I explained to her that this was necessary for her progress, she seemed to understand and appreciate my effort—but I also knew that she was right. Good intention is not enough. We agreed that when she felt nagged rather than encouraged, she would tell me. And she did. Still today, I feel that my capacity to be of help to others may be improved if I learn to better identify when I am being over-caring or too demanding and when letting go can be more constructive than persisting.
There are several directions I am eager to pursue while completing an MSW at NAME OF UNIVERSITY. I am particularly interested in the specialization in mental health. Whereas most of my professional and educational development thus far has focused on child care and psychosocial rehabilitation, a master in social work at NAME OF UNIVERSITY would complement my life experience and help me cultivate skills relevant to patient care in a medical setting. While I know that I am passionate about patient-centered care, I am eager to learn more about scientific research that can be implemented at a societal level. Whether or not I would choose it as a long-term career path, I have not yet had enough exposure to say. A practice concentration in Mental Health would provide me with ample opportunities to try and apply these new lessons. With an aging demographic and medical technology capable of prolonging human life beyond the point of autonomy, I believe that the most pressing social problem for our society is end-of-life care. Unfortunately, I recently learnt this lesson first-hand as my father suffered from and eventually succumbed to cancer. The experience of providing palliative care for a loved one showed me that it is extremely important to help both patient and family during this last phase of a patient’s illness.
I am also especially concerned with social issues pertaining to the well-being of persons with disabilities and special needs. The close relationship that the School of Social Work maintains with local organizations would help me meet and interact with patients as well as other social workers actively engaged in enacting change at the community level. I would like to concentrate in a field practice method of Direct Practice. The opportunity to work under a faculty member and a field advisor one-on-one would be invaluable. When I began to work as a social counselor, I was involved in the case of a client in his early 20s who had been employed for more than a year by a small company as part of his vocational rehabilitation process. The client had consistently received positive feedback from his employer and been gradually assigned responsibilities that made him an integral part of the workplace. Our staff consequently supported his decision to negotiate a raise. When the case was discussed in staff meetings, I was initially upset to discover that the client’s goal was merely to receive the minimum wage. The very fact that it was legal to pay certain individuals less than the minimum seemed to me exploitative. Before I had the chance to protest against this seeming injustice, I discovered that Israeli law had recently changed so that such exemptions were no longer possible. My sense of relief, however, was short-lived. Whereas that particular person was now in a better position from which to negotiate with his employer, I soon learned that we were facing a much wider problem: It became increasingly difficult to find employers who would agree to hire individuals from our community without such wage incentives.
The mere existence of minimum wage laws and the public awareness of them may therefore have serious demoralizing and disempowering effects on those officially not covered by it. A tool for social inclusion becomes a tool for exclusion. Although I am in complete agreement with the overall ethos advocated by the School of Social Work’s Mission Statement, it seems to me a little too optimistic in that it implies that all conflicts can be resolved to the best interest of all parties. As the problems with minimum-wage for workers with disabilities demonstrates, some problems do not necessarily have solutions that satisfy everyone involved. Helping patients cope with conflict and tension is of primary concern for a social worker.
As an older student, I bring valuable and unique experiences to a learning environment. If accepted to NAME OF UNIVERSITY, my husband and I would move to the CITY together, and he would commute to OTHER CITY, where he is a JOB at ORGANIZATION. We have enough savings with his income to cover the cost of living, and I hope to be granted student loans to cover tuition. Ideally, at least some financial aid would come from NAME OF UNIVERSITY in the form of fellowships, grants or scholarships.