Jonathan Swift wrote: "Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others." As her graduation approached this past May, Ekta Shah found herself thinking about how she sees the world around her and how easily some things are overlooked and forgotten.
Ekta, a newly minted graduate of Monmouth's Master of Social Work (MSW) program, recalls that as a child she didn't really know what a social worker was or what one did-but she found out.
"I remember that my father collaborated with social workers for his job, but I never really knew what that meant. Social work, as a concept I think, is something some children overlook, like I did, because there's little or no exposure to social workers in their lives."
And social work would continue to be a concept at the fringe of Ekta's mind, almost forgotten, until her senior year of high school. Throughout the college application and career planning process, Ekta worked with her then-school counselor, Mrs. Hansen. It was during this time that the school counselor made a suggestion that helped Ekta begin to see her future.
"While I was considering which major to pursue, Mrs. Hansen suggested that I might make a good social worker. I wasn't sure I agreed, but, like when I was a kid, I wasn't too sure what that meant either. So, I looked into it, and what I found was potential-potential to learn and to grow and to pursue a number of different kinds of work, but also potential to help others, which really spoke to me."
That fall, Ekta took her first classes as an undergraduate in the Monmouth University School of Social Work, but that was just the beginning.
How Monmouth helped me achieve my goals
For Ekta, attending classes helped her to build a solid foundation upon which she could build a career, but as she recalls, classes were just one part of a larger whole.
"One of the greatest aspects of Monmouth is its size. The one-on-one attention from teachers and counselors is invaluable. The focused attention especially paid off when it came time for me to find an internship. With so many resources and so much guidance, I was able to find an internship at a nursing home that allowed me to put all of the lessons I had learned in class into action while learning new ones along the way."
And her internship turned out to be more than just a proving ground for lessons learned.
"My internship had a huge impact on me and helped me to shape my thoughts about the importance of not only social work, but about the needs of geriatric populations-as well as my own future."
Why I'm proud of Monmouth
Now, having completed her graduate study in the School of Social Work, Ekta is at a point where she can reflect upon her college experience.
“So many aspects of Monmouth make me proud, but it’s the University’s commitment to helping students to not only achieve their goals, but to first realize what those goals are that fills me with a sense of pride. Moreover, I am proud to be a part of the School of Social Work. I feel pride knowing that I am a part of a community that cares about the same things I do and that is working toward eliminating the same injustices that I am working toward eliminating.”
And while Ekta is looking back upon her time at MU, she is also looking forward.
“Monmouth gave me the tools to succeed and my internship taught me how to put those tools to good use. Now that I’ve graduated, I plan to continue working with the geriatric population. It’s important to me because they’re a population that doesn’t receive nearly enough attention. And to me, that’s what it means to be a social worker—it’s about having the vision to advocate for those who have been neglected, discriminated against, or too often forgotten about.”