Social Work Warrior Student Wellness: Challenges
The past year has challenged all of us. From a global pandemic to devastating events highlighting racial inequity and a very contentious election – we've all had a lot on our plates. At times it has been difficult to concentrate and to figure out this 'new' normal, but we are here to help. Our Social Work Warrior Student Wellness series highlights student experience accounts acknowledging the physical, social and emotional toll of the last year, while at the same time recognizing the resilience displayed by our social work student community. Throughout the series, we encourage students to identify their stressors and challenges, acknowledge loss, be open to new ways to cope, invest in themselves, keep moving forward and remember the first step to helping others is helping yourself.
Juggling my job, classes, internship and family during the past year has been exhausting. I feel like I have to handle everything on my own.
We have each experienced new hurdles from the last year differently. For some the unexpected need for childcare arose. For others, the challenge of mounting isolation from pandemic restrictions took hold. In the second installment of our Social Work Warrior Student Wellness series, we explore the unique ways we each experience new challenges and needs. How have you been affected by events of the last year?
My warrior story
I was the first in my family to pursue a college degree. While my parents supported my decision to go to college, they were not able to offer any financial support. I was initially able to live at home and commute to Wayne; my high school grades and my family's economic status resulted in being eligible for a few small scholarships and a Pell grant. These allowed me to pay tuition and books and little else. While in school, I worked part-time to pay for transportation costs and other school-related needs. I loved being on campus but as a commuting/working student, I had little time to participate in university life and student activities.
When I decided to apply for the MSW degree, my family did not understand why I would return to school. They anticipated that I would begin working after my bachelor's degree and likely get married and start a family. I opted to move to campus and lived in a small studio. My graduate studies were funded by scholarships, loans and part-time work. I felt more alone and isolated as a grad student, especially once the pandemic kicked in and campus became incredibly quite. I was able to keep at least $10 in my account to keep it open. It never occurred to me to go to an advisor or a faculty member to ask for help. There were thousands of students at Wayne and they seemed to be doing ok; I felt that I needed to figure things out on my own.
I loved my classes and internship but was struggling emotionally. I did not have much support from family, and I did not feel comfortable sharing with others my struggles. A faculty member reached out to me after a Zoom class one day; she recommended I apply for a student assistant position. It was tough finding a position on campus during the pandemic, but it still allowed me to engage more virtually with other students, faculty and staff. I learned about resources on campus that provided me with access to food and other items during months that were tough. I saw that other students like me received this support and that it was ok to ask for and accept this kind of help. I wished I'd known earlier about these supports and that I had been more open to asking and receiving help. While I still experienced challenges in this last year of graduate school, I did not feel as isolated and recognized the importance of asking for and receiving help.
Warriors have your back
- If you need confidential support, you can make a request online for telehealth counseling through CAPS. You won't have to leave your home to talk to someone, it is free for enrolled students and offers one-on-one, groups, workshops, and so much more. The School of Social Work has also partnered with CAPS to offer virtual private counseling sessions on Tuesday's and Thursday's from 4 – 5 pm – learn more via Get Involved.
- The W Food Pantry supports students with food and toiletries to those currently enrolled in classes.
- The HIGH (Helping Individuals Go Higher) Program helps financially stressed students reach their goal to graduate with housing support, textbooks and other school supplies, clothing, transportation, and child-care assistance.
- Feeling under the weather? For student health care services to prevent and treat common physical illness visit Wayne State's Campus Health Center.
- Are you looking for energy, financial, food, health, housing, internet and cell phone service, mental health counseling, transportation, unemployment, and water resources in the Detroit area? Check out our Detroit area community resource lists for Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties.
- Are you looking for a job or need help determining your career path? Visit our career resources page that includes our online job board.
- There are a variety of student organizations where you can connect with fellow students and explore a passion.
- Consider participating in Social Work Peer Support (SWPS), a peer-to-peer student-led learning community aimed at supporting Social Work Warriors through their academic and field education journeys. SWPS hosts individual discussions and group activities including virtual Sunday Funday's.
- Your advisor can be an invaluable source of motivation and support. If you haven't been seeing your advisor at least once per semester, make an appointment today at advisingworks.wayne.edu.
- Are you looking for writing or research support? Learn more about our specialized writing and research coaches offering free support to Social Work students.
- You are always welcome to visit faculty during office hours or email them to inquire about assistance with course deadlines.
Financial aid and scholarships
- School is expensive and there are a variety of resources both in and out of WSU to help: start at the WSU Office of Student Financial Aid to see what options are available to you, check out WSU private scholarships which open March 1st each year, use the Michigan scholarship search tool for those who reside in the mitten state, ask your supervisor if your employer offers tuition assistance and lastly chat with your advisor – attending part-time may be a more affordable option and WSU offers an Installment Payment Plan.
- Are you nearing graduation? Look into the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which can provide loan repayment relief to those at qualifying 501(c)3 non-profit employers.