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MSW Degree Online, US Navy

August 23, 2015

I have now been in the US Navy for the past 12 years and it is my home; and the context in which I hope to continue to make progress professionally as a social worker. It is my intention to excel in your flagship Masters Program in Social Work at UXX based not only on my experience with the military but also my intense dedication to the subject of mental health issues, addictions, and domestic violence. I have seen and witnessed up close the daily struggles of our service members and their families now for most of my adult life, which helps me to understand the complexity of their situations and I believe will help me to think creatively in your program about military issues from a social work perspective.

Persistent and a very hard worker, I take great pride in the fact that I am a survivor and have personally bounced back from the trauma of sexual abuse and the crippling affects of depression and anxiety that so frequently compound the suffering of the victim. This is why I now want to be seen as a source of hope, in particular, for the women and children of military families.

I have now spent many years working as an Instructor for the Navy with an extremely diverse population, helping soldiers to deal effectively with their personal, legal, financial, and professional issues on a daily basis. I also serve as a Family Advocacy Program Representative working as a liaison between the Navy and the families of service members. I deal with Domestic Violence issues among service members on a daily basis, many if not most of these cases have something to do with substance abuse. This is why I want very much to develop a research focus as a student in your program at USC in the areas of mental health, addiction, sexual abuse and domestic violence.

I have also distinguished myself as a volunteer to the extent to which I have been able, working, for example with a group called Saturday Scholars tutoring children. I have long had a profound passion for feeding the homeless and I have also engaged in this area to the extent of my abilities, what I have left after being a soldier and a mother of 4. In Japan, I spent a lot of time visiting orphanages.

Born and raised in the Philippines, I joined the Navy shortly after our arrival in San Diego, CA. I still speak Tagalog almost every day with my family and there are so many Filipino soldiers in the military that sometimes I feel as if I never left the Philippines. I also see myself as following in my father’s footsteps since he worked at a US Naval Base in Subic Bay as a civilian safety engineer. I grew up very familiar with the US Bases. But my patriotism really developed shortly after the 9/11 when we permanently immigrated to America only one month after the attack. I remember to this day watching it on CNN in the Philippines.

My brother and I enlisted in the military at the same time, right after getting our social security numbers, primarily because we were very grateful for the opportunity that America was giving us. We saw our enlistment not only as a way to prepare for our education, but also as a way to honor the victims of those attacks (including 17 Filipino and Filipino Americans).

My first duty overseas was in Yokosuka Japan for 6 months. My next adventure abroad was a year in Bahrain, being able to visit Dubai twice, as well as Paris and Venice. Now I am deployed in Kuwait for 7 months. I work as the Leading Petty Officer of the "Separations Platoon" dealing with service members who are being processed out in the Navy and Marine Corps for legal and administrative issues.

I am a divorced mother of 4. My ex-husband is suffering from PTSD and was medically discharged from the Navy in 2007. Being in the Navy for 12 years, I have seen and witnessed the daily struggles of our service members and their families and the great sacrifices that they make in order to serve our country. This is why it would bring me special joy to help develop, put in place, and administer effective, timely, and culturally sensitive treatment plans for social service programs in the military, helping to improve the lives not only of service members but also their families.

Troubled by the way in which in today's society the genuine willingness of people to help others is a rarity and doing for others is generally seen as a burden. I seek to live my life as testimony to the best in human nature, celebration of service to those who most need our help, especially the protection of families. I know how it is to be in their shoes and to feel the sense of hopelessness that comes all too often along with military service. I want to serve as an inspiration to my patients and clients and be able to touch their lives and make a positive difference. I want to serve as a role model to women who were abused and abandoned and empower them to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I want to be an advocate for those who do not have a voice and those who are too weak to defend themselves and their own. This is why social work shall be my mission, passion, identity, and sense of fulfillment in life.

I want to become a Commissioned Officer in the Navy as a Social Worker to do research and develop more Social work programs that serve to more effectively identify those service members and their families who are in greatest need of assistance, in a proactive if not preventative fashion, addressing the issues before they spiral out of hand and great damage is done. I have watched with horror and investigated cases of soldiers who have ended up murdering their wives shortly after returning home from combat zones. I want to see this as largely preventable, not always, but in most cases. I want to help control the stress that drives these incidents by creating and identifying more resources for soldiers, in a variety of areas, especially coping strategies.

My heart is set on your program at UXX for obvious reasons, the fact that your program is not only the first military social work specialization at a civilian research university but also the first web-based MSW program and the principal pioneer program implementing virtual reality into graduate education. Furthermore, your program is the only MSW program to receive a direct appropriation from Congress for military social work research through the department of defense. One of your research clusters is veterans and military families, another is substance abuse, a third is child welfare; where else would I want to earn my MSW? Why not join the online academic community of the most rapidly expanding social work graduate school in the nation?

I am a living testament to the way in which one can bounce back and make their own life and the lives of others around them much better, despite difficult circumstances and challenges. I have always sought to serve and was originally attracted to the study of health care. This is why I began studying and finally finished my undergraduate studies in the area of Healthcare Management. The weakest part of my application to your program is my grades as an undergraduate student. At the time, however, I was wrestling with great challenges and I ask that this be taken into consideration as a factor in the evaluation of my ability to perform as a student in your program. My husband became completely unstrung by his PTSD at the very same time that all 4 of our children were still small. My grades suffered because this was my time of greatest trial and struggle in every way. All of these issues have now long been resolved and I am free to concentrate my energy on my studies.

In 2012, I was sent unaccompanied for a year to the Middle East where I worked in a small clinic and it was there that I found my calling, when I was introduced to the Social Work field in the clinic. This year-long tour was challenging especially being away from my family. I got divorced while in the Middle East, and married again, to Social Work. It was the wonderful support that I received from my own military social worker that gave me the final push to put my own troubles in the past and to give my all to my future and the troubles of others. Ten years from now I aspire to have my Doctorate in the field of Social Work Program and possibly open my own clinical practice as a social worker dedicated to military families. I thank you for consideration of my application to your unique and distinguished MSW Program at UXX.

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