Applying for Grad School and Personal Evolution

captain-jean-luc-picard-the-acquisition-of-wealth-is-no-longer-the-driving-force-in-our-lives-we-work-to-better-ourselves-and-the-rest-of-humanity

     So, I am trying to get into Grad School. Since my application needs to be in by January 15th (less than 10 days! Ah!), this has moved into top priority status. (Sorry everyone still waiting for the next segment in my current dolly story, I have to put that on the back burner for now. At least I’m telling you this time rather than spending months with no communication.) This is something I’ve really only mentioned briefly before because 1) I’ve never really known how to tie it into the original topics and 2) life often has a way of mucking up plans – what if I don’t get in? What if I can’t get the job doing the thing afterward? What if some other unforeseen change occurs and my life moves in yet another direction?  As you read the following, please note that this is a plan and a desire that may have to change shape as time squeezes me through the toothpaste tube of life.

When I attended undergrad, I majored in Anthropology and minored in Linguistics. I say this much in my “About Me” section, as well as the fact that part of the initial basis of this blog came from that background. And indeed, my earliest posts do a better job of trying to use that lens to reflect on fashion, art, communication, etc. However, it has been almost 7 years since I received my B.A. and my occupational goals have shifted slightly.

In 2013 I started working at a Runaway and Homeless Youth shelter. I really enjoy my job and I enjoy this field. I decided a couple of years ago, really before I even started this job, that I would like to become a school social worker. I like working with teens and I really value education. One of my favorite parts of the job I do have has been introducing these kids to ideas and places that maybe they’re not as familiar with – I take them to the museums, I take them to the library and try to open them up to documentaries, I try to use the reality shows they watch to talk about healthy relationships (not just in the romantic sense) and conflict resolution (and why are almost all the relationships depicted always so dramatic and toxic? Does this affect viewers on any level? Does it affect these kids? How many examples of healthy relationships do these kids get to witness?)
The reality is that it can be harder to focus on school when there are aspects of life outside of school causing stress and pulling your attention. The reality is not every kid has access to the same resources or even knows how to fully utilize those resources. Bullying, which is a classic issue, has shifted into a bigger and uglier monster in this digital age. There are SO many issues that students have to deal with that aren’t always considered or discussed. What needs aren’t being met that I might be able to help with so that they might have a better chance at doing well in school, at breaking out of vicious cycles, at elevating their own socio-economic status?
I think I’ve been interested in this stuff for awhile. I’ve certainly had to get through a lot myself to get to a place where I can say I’ve done better than my parents. I am a first generation college graduate, and that’s a pretty big deal. However, between dating a teacher (going on 5 years) and working in an RHY program for nearly 3 years, I’ve just gotten more sure that this is something I’d like to be doing.
But, it means I need to go back to school and get my Master’s in Social Work and get some other licensing to work as a school social worker in the state o Illinois. I applied last year and was rejected. So, I spent the summer and fall taking classes at the local community college (alongside my 2 jobs, which accounted for a lot of my blog hiatus) in an effort to make myself a better candidate. So, I guess cross your fingers for me that I get in this time and won’t have to re-evaluate my entire life again (lol).

Books! Dolls! Prisoners! Um… What?!

GEAbout a month and a half ago, I got involved with the Urbana-Champaign Books to Prisoners project (B2P for short) and took up a second job as an online seller to help bring in funding for this awesome not-for-profit. One of the many programs within the Independent Media Center here in my wonderful dual-town, the B2P has been providing Illinois inmates with free books since 2004. From their Facebook page, here is a rundown of what they’re about:

UC Books to Prisoners is an Urbana, IL based project providing books to Illinois inmates at no cost. We offer books by mail to all Illinois inmates and operate lending libraries in our two local county jails.

We are an all volunteer organization with a number of easy ways for you to get involved. Whether you have an hour a month or would like to volunteer more often, you are invited to to work with us. We interact with inmates by reading their letters, selecting books from our collection of donated materials and shipping the books directly to the inmates.

Our volunteers also staff lending libraries in the Champaign County jails. If you would prefer to work behind the scenes, we need help managing, soliciting and coordinating book donations as well as raising funds to pay for this work.

Mission: * to provide books to inmates in Illinois by recycling donated books * to facilitate a quality volunteer experience * to offer a venue for inmates to tell their own stories * to educate ourselves and our community about prisons

Basically, what I do is I take all of the books that aren’t sent to prisoners (they get priority for anything that comes in, I am stage 2) and make what I can in online sales – sometimes I am selling to 3rd party vendors, sometimes I am selling through my B2P Amazon store, AikiFox Books ( www.amazon.com/shops/AikiFox_Books )   I only make a percentage of what we bring in and the rest goes back into B2P to help them cover overhead/ operational expenses. As I type this, there are 352 books for sale at AikiFox Books. Most are around $3 plus shipping and cover a variety of topics and genres, both fiction and non-fiction. The girls each picked out their personal favorites that are on sale as of this writing:

GEOpal’s pick: “Antique’, ‘vintage’, ‘previously owned’, ‘gently used’, ‘cast-off’ ñ the world of second hand encompasses as many attitudes as there are names for it. The popular perception is that second- hand shops are largely full of junk, yet the rise of vintage fashion and the increasing desire for consumer individuality show that second hand shopping is also very much about style. Drawing on six years of original research, Second-Hand Cultures explores what happens when the often contradictory motivations behind style and survival strategies are brought together. What does second hand buying and selling tell us about the state of contemporary consumption? How do items that begin life as new get recycled and reclaimed? How do second hand goods challenge the future of retail consumption and what do the unique shopping environments in which they are found tell us about the social relations of exchange? (from Amazon Summary)

GEHouda’s pick: This book studies the acquisition, loss and re-acquisition of Spanish, English, Portuguese, and Hebrew, the first languages of this writer’s son. It applies the results of current work in the areas of psycholinguistics, bilingualism, and applied linguistics to the study of language development in one multilingual child, Noam, from birth to age 17. The acquisition, loss, and re-acquisition of four languages by Noam also is compared with that of other children studied by the author and others. This book uncovers linguistic, cognitive, psychological, and social mechanisms of language acquisition, loss, and re-acquisition and documents the child’s increasing, decreasing, and, in turn, increasing proficiency in four languages. This book applies Dromi’s guidelines for qualitative case-study research to the study of language development in one multilingual child (Spanish, Portuguese, Hebrew, English), Noam, from birth to age seventeen. In addition, the results of Noam’s case study are compared with other case studies conducted by this author as well as by other researchers. (Amazon summary)

GEMitsuko’s pick: In her father’s Peruvian family, Marie Arana was taught to be a proper lady, yet in her mother’s American family she learned to shoot a gun, break a horse, and snap a chicken’s neck for dinner. Arana shuttled easily between these deeply separate cultures for years. But only when she immigrated with her family to the United States did she come to understand that she was a hybrid American whose cultural identity was split in half. Coming to terms with this split is at the heart of this graceful, beautifully realized portrait of a child who “was a north-south collision, a New World fusion. An American Chica.” (from Amazon summary)

GEMorrigan’s pick: The author shows how Irish women developed the political skills required to represent women’s interests to government effectively leading to the dismantling of a range of discriminatory policies against women and the accommodation of a feminist agenda within the political system. (Amazon’s summary)

If you like what I write (when I get around to it) and want to help support me (and help support a great non-profit in the process!), please consider buying some of the books I have for sale. Again, that site is: www.amazon.com/shops/AikiFox_Books
I’m also still running my Etsy site as well, if you’d prefer to go that route and pick up some nifty handmade items for a dolly friend. You can find that shop here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/AClothTheWorld
Broke but still want to support? Share with people who might be interested! 🙂 Spread the love!