My journey to social work has been inspired by a number of life events, but the most important reason is to honor my grandpa Max Van Valkenburg. Known in the workplace as a force to be reckoned with, as a grandpa he revealed a different side of love and patience. He consistently encouraged his three grandgirls to achieve greatness in the field of education, and it’s thanks to his inspiration that I pursued a masters in social work. Walking alongside my family as we witnessed his mind changing due to the disease and enduring the difficulty of finding placement, I realized how badly we could’ve used a guide (or social worker) to help navigate those difficult fields. I cherished the opportunity to be present when he took his last breath on February 26, 2018, because while sad, that moment showed perseverance, acceptance, and peace at the end of life.
FUN FACTS : Before I was a social worker, I was my university mascot for four years, a community manager for the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life events in northern Virginia, and a radio show host.