Zhaoyu Zhang, 2019 MSW

Social Workers are Changemakers!

Zhaoyu Zhang
When did you decide to pursue a degree in social work?
When I was a junior, I thought that I needed to learn more if I wanted to devote my whole life to social work. Comparing with the USA, the cradle of social work, China has a long way to go. I had better go to the USA and pursue an MSW degree.
Have you had experiences outside of the US that have impacted your life and decisions to pursue a degree in social work?
I initiated a venture philanthropy project which aimed at providing assistance for child development in rural areas in China. With good project planning and excellent team members, I got some financial support for this project. After thorough study of the educational situation of the local poor children, my team members and I creatively designed this project to provide them with safety education, potential development and Career exploration education, sexual education, leadership development and diversity culture.

As for the teaching methods, our team developed flexible teaching methodologies and an effective way of managing the classroom. Our lectures were articulate and logical and therefore were easy for our students to follow, and we often used scenario simulation to make the subject matter come alive for our students. Moreover, we encouraged students to participate in group activity to cultivate their team skills. By integrating resources and introducing these new methods, we successfully helped the children improve their creativity, imagination and adaptability. Our performance won the award “Excellent Venture Philanthropy Project”. This project has given me an opportunity to review first-hand materials on the education of poor children in local rural areas.

My thirst for educational opportunities prompted me to find an internship and I got a chance to work in a big company in China. As a training assistant, I was mainly responsible for their summer camp business. Our campers came from well-off families, quite different from the educational situation of the poor children in rural areas. Due to the good education they receive at home and abroad, they are very talented in many areas, have broad horizons and are well aware of social etiquette. Recalling my experience serving poor children in rural areas, I became aware of the gulf between them and our campers.

One of the important functions of education is to speed up social class mobility. However, the stratification of Chinese society has been gradually intensifying the division of education. I realized that the promotion of equitable distribution of educational resources can help the community to develop more healthily. Perhaps this can start from the development of policies and mechanisms, but I also need to obtain in-depth knowledge of this issue. It made me decide to do something about social work as my career plan. In order to further my understanding of this issue, and acquire a more international perspective, I do need to study advanced theories and practical experience in a university with a good reputation in social work. That’s why I came to the USA and chose an MSW Organization and Community Leadership track.

Do you have any advice for students currently enrolled in a social work program?
Be prepared to fulfill your life with reading, paper and internship(laughing). Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed, especially in the mid-term and finals week because we have so many courses we have to take and meanwhile we have to do internship two days every week. It’s a really busy and competitive program. Please learn to take care yourself and manage your time.
Zhaoyu ZhangZhaoyu ZhangZhaoyu Zhang
Zhaoyu Zhang