Public Affairs/Social Work Pre-Grad Intern Jodyann Dawson

Jodyann Dawson The road to Grad School

This semester, I embarked upon a new journey by enrolling in The Intellectual Entrepreneurship program. Designed to give students a hands on experience for graduate level programs, the program has helped to shape and transform me into a much better student. I am a 4th year student pursuing a BSW, with the intention of going into Public Policy. My mentor is Christen Miller, a LBJ student completing a nonprofit portfolio, and this is her last semester as well. In reading the proceeding, an abridged version of my experiences this semester is captured.

I am a first generation college student in my family, as well as a previously enrolled youth from the Texas foster care system. My history of resilience can be noted since I was 11 years young. Despite my obstacles, I have always maintained my desire to pursue a higher education. This internship opportunity was a catalyst in doing such. I am deeply committed to the service of educating our youth. The social and economic disparity evidenced in so many urban settings throughout the United States today both disturbs and motivates me. I am an optimistic and caring individual who has remained persistent in identifying issues of bridging the gap between educational opportunities. I hope to find future employment in the field of social work and public policy that will allow me to assist in addressing or ameliorating some of the more pressing social and educational problems plaguing our young and aspiring youth.

By completing this internship, my hope was to gain more leadership skills, knowledge, and experience when going to graduate school, as well as in the area of policy analysis.

This internship helped to support my professional aims and current educational pursuits by helping to build a foundation for my future career goals. I was able to attend classes related to my interest areas, such as The Financial Crisis and International Management. I would attend classes with my mentor every other week, on Mondays or Wednesdays from 9am until 12pm. We also met every Tuesday at 2:15 to 3:30 pm for coffee. I also helped her with some of the research she conducted about a social innovation project she had to present at a conference at Yale University. I learned what it is like to have to create a final thesis, the tedious process of obtaining an IRB, how to create a survey, and even more.
Christen has exposed me to a lot of different resources, related to my interest. One of the most memorable moments was a public hearing I attended, where I spontaneously gave a speech about what it means to be an example of resilience coming out of the foster care system, and pursuing an education at a collegiate level. Christen empowered me to be a voice, and it caught the interest of a lot of people, to know that children who have been the epitome of this system don't always become failures, but can learn to aspire to their greatest potential if given enough opportunities and resources to do such. In addition, we both attended a conference in California together as well. The conference was about the education of young children, and certain policies and procedures that could assist in the advancement of their education. The conference was well informative, and it was a lot of information to process. Still, it gave me a lot of insight and perspectives in alternative solutions to establishing education reform policies which have evolved out of evidence based practices. The trip to California was where my mentor and I bonded the most. We got to know each other 24hrs a days, we ate together, and we talked about so many things, involving not just school, but life as well. It was here that I realized our friendship would develop on a long term level, because we had so many things in common.

As a Social Work major, I have taken classes which taught me about different aspects and functions of the education system, how to work effectively in groups, as well as developing and maintaining relationships with children. Currently, I tutor two children, who are at the third grade level, in the subject areas of Math, Reading and Science. Additionally, I work as a Mentor for a nonprofit organization called Friend of a Friend Youth and Family Services, as a contractor with agencies such as MHMR, CPS, and Juvenile Justice. Within this multidisciplinary context, I have been exposed to a variety of clients ranging from children who are intellectually disabled, youths on parole, and children living in foster care. As a Mentor, my goal is to support youth in community based activities, promote social/recreational involvement and provide positive influence. So, I am very passionate about what it is I would like to do, and a graduate level degree would help me in accomplishing such.

Although the joys of mentoring, teaching and having interpersonal interaction with young students continue to reward me, as part of my immediate career aspirations, I am particularly interested in polices that focus on issues of administrative leadership related to curriculum implementation and innovative teaching methodologies. The graduate program offered at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs maintains a strong program that would assist in my achieving my goal. Upon receiving my BSW, I will apply for the MSW/MPAff dual degree graduate program. This internship has offered me the opportunity to experience working in a policy center, at Texans Care for Children, where my mentor works, while helping to strengthen me as an individual, along with my application for this graduate program.

I have realized that Graduate school is a wonderful experience. There is a level of knowledge that one can acquire about the field interested in, which can only help in the advancement of their career. I have realized that I would love to become a graduate school recipient. I want to emulate my mentor, because she has such a positive influence on me. She exemplifies a lot of good and positive attributes that would help to serve as guidance to me along the way. Not only this, but she is now my friend, someone who I can call on for further assistance in relation to school and life obstacles. I am glad I found her; I truly believe that it was a tremendous blessing to have encountered her, and to be able to work with her this semester. Not only did I learn from my mentor, but she learned from me simultaneously. She always remained open minded, and was capable of discussing, and answering any question I asked.

Although this semester has been a most challenging one, with taking 17 hours, working two jobs, while experiencing the death of my grandmother, I have learned to deal with adversity. My greatest accomplishment is to remain persistent, and to always rise again when I fall. My mentor played a vital role, because she was definitely a helping hand to help pick me up along the way. I shall always recall this semester and what it entailed. I am very grateful to have had this experience and will recommend this program every chance I get. Thank you so much for establishing this program, as you help to change one life at a time.

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