by Hannah Lee
My passion for people is truly my motivation for pursuing the field of social work. This passion began developing within me when I was in my pre-teen years. I have an auto-immune condition that resulted in frequent hospital stays. As a result, I was blessed to have the opportunity to interact with social workers. During my hospital stays, I was assigned social workers whose roles included assisting in the transition from hospital to home, case management, and educating me about my condition.
For me, it was not the duties of the social workers with whom I interacted that stood out to me, but rather their ability to connect and communicate with their clients. While doctors and nurses came in and out periodically, it was really the social workers who took the time to have a relationship with me. Through them, I saw how powerful it was to be able to connect with people, and I wanted to be able to do the same. As a patient, I devoted my time to sitting daily with teenagers who were hospitalized. During this time, I knew that whatever I did with my future, I wanted it to involve connecting and communicating with people.
Once I made the decision that I wanted my future career to be based on meaningful interpersonal communication, choosing social work as a major was not difficult. I was truly fascinated with the values and ethics of the profession. I was truly intrigued by my social work classes. I was researching and studying because of personal motivation, not merely motivation to pass a test or write a decent paper. The more I learned about the social work profession, the more “at home” I felt.
After college, I began volunteering with advocacy groups devoted to making social change in the area of those living with chronic illnesses and disabilities. Volunteering increased my love and passion for not only people, but also advocacy. One that I feel strongly about is assisting others and empowering them with the tools to address and meet their own needs.
In the fall of 2014, I had the opportunity to be a long-term trainee for the Vanderbilt Leadership Education in Neurodevelopment Disabilities (LEND) program. The program focuses on advancing leadership and advocacy skills, interdisciplinary collaboration, education on various neurodevelopment disabilities, and cultural competency.
One social concern that is especially important to me is the transition period from pediatric to adult care. There is a cultural shift from pediatric care to the adult hospital that makes the transition unappealing. As a result, to their detriment, many young adults discontinue care.
I would like to see a social worker have the role of a transition specialist. The social worker could introduce the young adults to the new adult clinic, while also promoting ownership of their health care. I am greatly looking forward to using my social work degrees to embrace my passion for people and have an impact on the lives of individuals, which will lead to having an impact on society as a whole.
Hannah Lee graduated from Freed-Hardeman University with her Bachelor of Science in Social Work in 2013 and will begin her master’s degree in social work from the University of Tennessee in June of 2016. Since graduating with her bachelor’s degree, she has been working with advocacy groups, presenting in various settings, and volunteering at a local hospital to educate the community and health care professionals on the impact of living with a chronic illness.