Social Work Warrior Student Wellness: Be actively present

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.

I don't know what my future holds anymore. Everything feels up in the air and I am just trying to take it day by day. 

In the fifth installment of our Social Work Warrior Student Wellness series, we take a look at what it means to be actively present in daily tasks such as assignments and family obligations. With heightened stress, it can make the future hard to conceive. Being actively present in daily tasks such as assignments and family obligations can assist in transitioning to the post-COVID-19 era. We also recognize that it's okay to live with the uncertainty of "I don't know" – know that your future is waiting for you when you're ready.

How can you be actively present?

My warrior story

I was beyond excited to start my journey as a Warrior with visions of strolling across campus, getting involved in community projects and meeting new friends. But that vision of my future changed quickly when COVID encompassed the country and devastated Detroit. Thinking with my brain, not my heart, I can understand the need for safety measures, social distancing, masking-up and vaccines, but there is this big part of me that still wishes everything could just return to normal.

As the weeks dragged into months and we passed the year mark of virtual classes, virtual events and basically a lack of physical human connection, I began to lose hope. I grew up knowing that college was in my future and had always assumed the degree on my resume would help me land a job when I graduate, but now I'm not so sure. Will I ever finish my degree? Will I even pass my classes this semester?

In many ways, I have felt hopeless. Hopeless in my inability to keep my loved ones safe from COVID. Hopeless to change people and systems that oppress and kill others. Hopeless to control my academic journey and future career. I felt so unsure of everything, so I decided I would take some control of my life and wellbeing and got involved. I checkout out the student org page and attended a Sunday Funday Zoom event held by the Social Work Peer Support group. It was great to hear I wasn't alone in feeling isolated, sad, and angry about all that was going on. I am now working with the Social Work Student Alliance to help plan initiatives that can make a difference in our community. It was eye-opening to see that I can still make a difference even though I am not sure exactly what my future holds. I'm taking it day by day and sometimes assignment by assignment. I am just trying to enjoy the fulfilling moments that I have and focus on one thing at a time. This year has taught me is that my life doesn't need to be completely planned out for me to find joy and keep move forward. It's ok to say "I don't know" for some things and tackle each new hurdle when I am ready. 

Resources

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.

Stay connected

  • 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.

Academic support

  • 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.