By Sharise M. Hemby, MSW, LSW
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” is a quote that best defines my approach to the social work profession. I chose this profession for the fulfillment of effecting change through interpersonal relationships along with advocating for people on a macro level.
Prior to entering the graduate program, colleagues from other professions pleaded with me to choose a different direction because of the “low pay.” One colleague who comes to mind was transitioning out of the social work profession because of the high demands and burnout rate. Many had gone as far as to call it a “thankless” profession. When I chose this field, I was aware of the low compensation and the high expectations. The compensation I receive for helping people find their voice has no monetary value. In helping people through the process of finding their voice, I found my voice, my “why.”
I would like to highlight a few professional experiences where I discovered my voice as my why, which helped me to help others find their voices.
I struggled with the transition from high school to undergraduate school. A professor challenged my reason for getting into the helping profession, my “why.” At this early stage in my journey; my “why” was quite two dimensional. “I enjoyed working with children.” “I wanted to help.” Later on in my journey, and a few years removed from graduate school, I chose to pursue a brief network marketing venture. I was once again faced with being challenged to look deep within and find my “why.” At this point, my “why” was given more definition. It began to evolve.
I took a position as a classroom therapist to fulfill a dream to practice social work in the school setting. I went back to the setting where I believed I could effect change earlier in one’s life. Being met with challenges beyond my control in this setting led me back to a nonprofit organization. This was an opportunity to effect change on a micro and mezzo level by teaching a model based on positive change for therapists to implement in the community.
Throughout my journey I have been inspired by and continue to be inspired by family, friends, motivational speakers, and those who I consider to be mentors. These particular people have inspired my experience in different ways. Family and friends were my biggest supporters during my social work career. Some of the motivational speakers that I follow through readings and seminars have assisted me in adding more of a variety of tools in my toolbox. Those who have served as mentors have inspired some of my favorite quotes, “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” “How you do anything is how you do everything.” “No matter where you go, there you are.” “Begin with the end in mind.” These influences play a major role in my effectiveness in social work, in addition to becoming a more well-rounded individual.
My experiences in various settings have helped me to find my purpose in the social work profession. I love social work because I get the privilege to bear witness to helping people tap into their inner strengths, find their voices, discover their “why.”
What I find fascinating is the challenge of assisting individuals through their process of bridging the gap between the problem and the solution. I am inspired by my social work colleagues who have worked hard to establish the integrity of the profession. As social work evolves in the 21st century, it is our duty to uphold the integrity. I look forward to continuing on the path of the positive direction of our approach to social work.
Sharise Hemby, LSW, a Pittsburgh native, earned an undergraduate degree in psychology from lndiana University of PA in 2002 and a graduate degree in social work from University of Pittsburgh in 2006. Ms..Hemby currently has a private counseling practice, HandinHand Counseling Services, LLC, located in Pittsburgh, PA.