Senior social work major, Leticia Tomaz from Brazil, said, “I wanted to go into social work, so I could work towards fighting social injustice.”
She said she loves to study something she is passionate about and something she can relate to. “It has everything to do with application so I really get to apply the things I learn and work on role playing. Even when I’m not in class, I can apply it. I am always working with people and making connections. People will come to me and I’m able to listen to those who reach out to me.”
Tomaz shared her desire to major in social work started when she moved from the United States to Brazil. “It really opened my eyes to different things like poverty. Kids that should’ve been in school were out on the streets selling things to make a living for their family.
“If you go to a public school, you can’t afford a private school for better education, and I experienced that. The teachers weren’t engaged, and students dropped out. The government there [like other places] is corrupt and people are not treated fairly. That’s what made me decide to go into social work,” Tomaz continued.
“I started out wanting to work with poverty and the homeless, but I have recently decided that I want to work with women. I want to be able to empower them and help them realize their beauty. I want them to see that they are worth it.
Tomaz continued, “The media portrays a certain unrealistic beauty, and I have seen people who feel that they don’t measure up. I want to allow people to see that value goes much deeper than outward beauty.”
“I usually get up early for class and have between two to three classes each day. I’m taking classes like medical social work, mental health and substance abuse.”
She mentioned a lot of people don’t realize that social work careers can be so broad. “You can go into anything you are really passionate about. There are so many unique things you can do with it. You can work with people with illnesses and advocate for them. You can also work with all sorts of age groups, and even internationally. There are also options in disaster relief and empowerment.”
“Don’t be afraid to find out more about it. Social work usually gets grouped into a robotic category and stereotyped working as a counselor, but it’s so much more than that.”
“You can apply it literally everywhere,” Tomaz said. “You don’t realize all the people around you going through hard things. You can’t see any deeper than they will let you. But in social work, you can really experience what’s going on. You are really able to read cues and be better prepared to react, respond and help those people who open up to you.”
According to Tomaz, social work is a difficult profession. She explained, “What we want to do is find the beautiful in the ugly. You have to be prepared to deal with a lot of problems. People grow up with problems that we don’t always see or know how to deal with. And you have to be able to know how to help without taking any of [the problems] home with you or becoming too attached.”