1. Did you always wanted to go to college? Why or Why not?
Yes and because my parents said I had to go-it was not a choice.
2. How long did it take for you to finish college?
I finished college in three years because I took more classes than the required credits and went to summer school for two years. I started the summer after my high school graduation then went through the next summer too. I did take a summer off to go to New York and New Jersey so that was cool.
3. What did you get your undergraduate degree in? Your masters?
My undergrad is in Sociology with an emphasis in criminal justice, minor in psychology. I could have taken a few more classes and doubled majored but I did not get a lot of assistance from the counselors. I strongly encouraged that students ask these kinds of questions their first year-what their options are and how to achieve it. I have a Master’s in Social Work and since I did not have a Bachelor in Social Work-I had to take an extra year of classes.
4. How did you decide on your major? Minor?
I always knew I wanted to be a social worker but ENMU did not have a BSW and I did not have any assistance in high school as to how to get scholarships, going to other schools, etc. I went to ENMU because that was where my brother and sister went. Sociology was the closest to what I wanted to be-I also had wanted to be a police officer or a probation officer too and that is how I did my work study at the university police station for all 3 years.
5. How did you pay for your degrees?
I received grants and financial aid for my education. I had to do work-study for money to pay for my living expenses but I was lucky because I was able to work more than the maximum of 12 hrs weekly because of where I worked. I also was able to get more hours during summer and holidays so I was lucky. I was also on food stamps during college too. My master’s I had to pay for it myself-I am still paying off the loans. I had to work full time to support myself so I had to go part time for my master’s-that is why it took me 3 years. It also took me 3 yrs because my undergrad was not in social work.
6. What did you like about college?
Freedom from my parents, the dances, meeting new friends, loved my job at the university police station because my bosses were great. I still keep in touch with them to this day and I graduated in 1994.
7. What did you gain the most from going to college, besides your degree?
I gained the knowledge that I can do whatever I set my mind to and that along the way there are people who will support me. I learned that college is not just for smart people (although I am smart! J ) but that if you are willing to work hard you can get a college education. I hear some people tell me that they were afraid of going or they were not smart enough but you do not have to be book smart to go to college-you just have to be persistent.
8. What is your advice to people who don’t want to go to college?
I would tell them that unless you are lucky to become rich by having a career that brings you money and stability, or that you want to work manual labor for most of your life, or you were born into money-getting a college degree should be your back up plan. A college degree nowadays is like a high school diploma-it has already lost some of its value (because now more people are getting masters degrees) so it is something people need to have. I am not rich because of my degree but I am not poor either. Having a degree has given me the freedom to do more in my life.
9. What advice do you have for first year college students?
You do not have to go to every class to pass but you need to make it to most! Map your degree plan ASAP.
10. Did you have to do any internship during your undergraduate or graduate work? Can you describe those experiences?
I had to do an internship for the last six months of my undergrad which I did at a boy’s home. Of course my job at the university police station was a great resume builder. For my master’s I had to do year long internships-the 2nd and 3rd year of my degree. The first internship was at the public defender’s office in downtown Albuquerque. I worked with a social worker who helped inmates at the jail find alternative sentences such as instead of going to jail for their 1st DUI offense they could go to a rehab place. My second internship was actually a fellowship meaning you get a small amount of money so I would highly recommend getting a fellowship if you can. I did it at the Health and Sciences Dept with the University of New Mexico-in the neurodisability section. I was in the LEND program-leadership and education in neurodisablity-working with kids with health concerns such as Autism, cerebral palsy, etc. I loved it but it was very stressful because in a fellowship most of the time and it is not free money. I had to attend a class all morning 1x a week and do 20 hrs weekly at the different clinics. We also had projects we had to do-this may be easy if you were not working 40-50hrs a week like I was and going to school 4 nights a week.