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Although Maya Angelou is known more as a poet and a creative artist than an activist, she has spent years helping reduce the racial barriers and celebrating the diversity of peoples evident in society.  Using words of beauty she has the ability to help people appreciate their own worth and their place in a society that is not monitored by racial lines.  Her eloquence and commitment to seeing the beauty in others is the underlying foundation of my desire to be a social worker.  Like Maya Angelou I have a strong commitment towards listening to and helping others in society that are less fortunate than myself – seeing in them the potential that society often overlooks.   The apathy and ignorance in society was first bought home to me when in high school I became a member of a teacher cadet program, which meant working for a year with mentally retarded students.  I can clearly remember how sad I felt seeing these wonderful individuals teased and picked on by so-called “normal” students.  Even then I recognized in myself a strong desire to help others, but I was also aware that to be effective in my dreams I needed the training and skills to be effective in my endeavors.I choose psychology as my major in college because I wanted to try and understand what elements there were in human nature that made us all react differently to a variety of situations.  Focusing deliberately on topics that helped me understand why certain mental health conditions make people react in different ways in a social context, my studies helped me appreciate the range of successes people afflicted with mental illness can achieve if provided the right environment in which they can flourish.  I see studying social work as an extension of this academic work in providing me an environment where I can help a variety of people in society reach their full potential.Working as a volunteer with the Kayo foundations helped me to understand the importance of empowerment to underprivileged people, in particular young people.  Their work with the youth in South Africa helped me to see that young people, when empowered with knowledge and skills, can overcome the negative circumstances of their birth.  This experience had a profound impact on me because the work did offer an opportunity to see volunteer community work provide a positive impact on a group of disadvantaged people.A second volunteer placement, this time with the JB Chorale (South Carolina) provided me with experience in a working example of a community organization whose mission statement included increasing the self-esteem of troubled youths who often lived in unsafe situations.  By providing a forum where these young people could succeed the ramifications of the increase in their self-confidence through participation inspired me to want to provide similar services in other areas.  I have also been privileged to work as a Case Manager for “Kids Place,” which is an organization that helps young adults who have been abused or neglected find a safe place in society where they can become productive members of their community.The work involved getting to know young people on a one-to-one basis and finding the community resources available through a variety of social services agencies to help individuals improve their position in life through empowerment, increased skills training and counseling where required. Another position with the Department of Mental Health in Atlanta (GA), as a human services specialist also added to my range of existing skills, this time in helping those individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia re-integrate into the community through increasing their personal level of skills and access to community resources. I am confident that my future studies in social work will provide me with the further skills I would require to make my own contribution to other disadvantaged or at risk groups in the future.My essay started with a quote from Maya Angelou and I noted then how important her creativity was in promoting the joys of a diverse society.  Like Maya Angelou I too appreciate the fact that every one of us is a unique individual and as unique individuals we all require different types of help in securing our future in society.  It is my dream that I will be able to help others through the use of the skills already acquired through work experience, voluntary work and prior academic training and combine these elements with further training in social work and the passion for helping others that has been my motivation in the past.  It is my goal to reach a point where I can do my part in reducing the levels of ignorance evident in society towards some disadvantaged groups, and play my part in celebrating human diversity and achievement. 

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