For the past year and a half or so, I have been a student ambassador for the UNC School of Social Work. Shortly put: when prospective students come to campus to check out the graduate program I might have had lunch with them, or if they've come for our monthly info sessions I might have sat on the student panel and answered their questions.
When I talk one-on-one with Master of Social Work (MSW) candidates, something that has caught my attention over and over again is the way prospective students answer my question, "What got you interested in social work?". The majority of MSW candidates were either working at a job or volunteering somewhere and ran into some type of systemic "wall" of sorts, and realized that in order to make change they would need to further their education.
And then comes their story. I listen patiently while the passion, the completely raw passion for such-and-such issue comes spilling out, along with a few ideas about how the situation should be improved. After a few years of talking about those very problems in the intimacy of our small classrooms, I've been exposed to the complexities surrounding a few social issues, and rarely is anything as cut and dry as I once thought. Surprisingly, I feel almost less sure of my ideas after my education than I did before I entered graduate school, simply because I have new information to throw into the mix. If problems were really as simple to remedy as we think they are, there would probably be worldwide peace, puppy dogs, and chocolate bars for all of humanity.
(Which reminds me: I really don't envy Barack's job).
I appreciate these new student's decisiveness and vigor, and so, during those brief encounters with prospective students, I rarely vocalize the "yeah but"s that come to my mind as they plummet down their single path of thought.
Goodness knows they will need that passion to get them through grad school...