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Ramiyah Valentine

2045

Bold Points

1x

Finalist

Bio

I used to say I would hate working with youth, now I've been doing just that for 10 years. I had no idea what I wanted to do when I completed undergraduate studies, and it was a total accident that I ended up tutoring students and absolutely loving it. When I complete my master's in social work I hope to work in a school giving students the tools they need to be successful. When I started my college career, I had no idea what I was doing. As a first generation student I had no one to prepare me for college and it took me a while to figure it out. Returning to graduate school at 36 with a child has been hard work, but I've managed to keep a 4.0 and join the Phi Alpha honor society. I am beyond proud of what I have accomplished and have bright hopes for my future.

Education

University of Southern California

Master's degree program
2021 - 2023
  • Majors:
    • Social Work

University of Redlands

Bachelor's degree program
2003 - 2007
  • Majors:
    • English Language and Literature, General
  • Minors:
    • Music, General

Miscellaneous

  • Desired degree level:

    Doctoral degree program (PhD, MD, JD, etc.)

  • Graduate schools of interest:

  • Transfer schools of interest:

  • Majors of interest:

    • Social Work
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      Education

    • Dream career goals:

      Educator

    • Lead Instructor

      Camp Fire Columbia
      2014 – 20173 years
    • Career Specialist

      New Avenues for Youth
      2019 – 20201 year
    • Program Coordinator

      Friends of the Children
      2017 – 20192 years

    Sports

    Softball

    Club
    1994 – 19995 years

    Basketball

    Varsity
    2000 – 20077 years

    Arts

    • Independent

      Music
      Oakland Youth Chorus, San Francisco Girls Chorus, Young Musicians Program
      1993 – Present
    • Independent

      Acting
      Rent, Little Shop of Horrors, Seussical, Songs for a New World
      1995 – 2012

    Public services

    • Volunteering

      AmeriCorps — Educator
      2012 – 2014

    Future Interests

    Advocacy

    Volunteering

    Philanthropy

    Entrepreneurship

    Mental Health Movement Scholarship
    Mental illness doesn't run in my family, it gallops. As a child I wondered how my aunts and uncles could stay in bed all day, what was this Prozac everyone was talking about all the time, and why my mother went to therapy every week. I saw these things all my life, but I still wasn't prepared to experience it myself. Starting college is tough for anyone, especially a first generation college student, and especially when all of a sudden you begin to feel hopeless and unloveable for seemingly no reason at all. Many times I cried for hours, or felt paralyzed by anxiety at a social event, not understanding why. Of course, my grades suffered and I isolated myself, feeling like no one really wanted to hear about my problems. As hard as it was, with a family well versed in those feelings they understood and suggested ways to help myself. "Depression is something you have to fight every day," my mother told me. I found the campus counselor and discovered that just taking about my sadness sometimes was enough to lift myself out of it. And when it wasn't enough the counselor helped me create plans for my schoolwork and personal life. She spoke to my teachers and explained what I was going through, got me work extensions when I needed them, and sometimes simply listened. Now that I can advocate for myself, my goal is to advocate for others as a high school social worker. It's widely suggested that the age mental illness begins to present itself is in the mid teens to early 20s- right when most are beginning to set their lifetime goals and plans. Being blindsided by depression was devastating for me, and having someone at the school to guide me through it was truly life saving.
    Impact Scholarship for Black Students
    “Working with kids does not sound like fun.” This is what I used to say when I was in high school. “You’d be an excellent teacher,” adults and peers alike said to me all the time. And I would say, “Working with kids does not sound like fun.” 10 years later, my entire career has been working with kids, and I ask myself, how did I get here? I originally began a career in social justice. I worked as an office intern for a company that makes films on race and equity. When my internship ended I began working for an after school program for low income students. I hoped to work in their office but they quickly saw my potential for teaching students and challenged me to be a tutor. Within their program I discovered a passion for working with youth, and since then I have been employed with various youth-centered non-profits. Through these programs I became aware of the many ways one can work with kids, and the many issues kids face while still expected to do well in school. I noticed how the mental health of youth is often overlooked, and some are called “bad kids” when in reality most are just kids who are trying to deal with adult sized problems. When teens fall asleep in class, many teachers find it disrespectful- they see it as a student showing that they don’t care about the information being taught. As a teacher I found that was sometimes true, but I would always ask students why they were so tired anyway. Most times it was due to staying up all night talking to friends or watching television and we’d talk about why their bodies need rest and think about ways to socialize and still be ready for school. But every now and then the reason was that the student did not have an adequate place to sleep; they were sleeping on a couch or in a room where others were making noise. Or they were sleeping outside. Once a student explained he didn’t sleep well the night before because his mother had been deported. This interaction had a profound effect on me. I wondered how much that student had missed that day because he was preoccupied with uncertainty of his future and worry for his mother. How many times had he gotten in trouble with other teachers because he was exhausted and preoccupied with a situation that was out of his control. I’ve worked with youth who are taking care of chronically ill parents, who only get meals at school, or have to go straight to work after school to support their families. I had a student who would get angry and yell or walk out of class at the drop of a hat, who would refuse to do activities that I intended to be fun. I realized she had anxiety from years of trauma and the fun guessing games I had concocted filled her with fear. I discovered I could quell some of her explosive behavior by simply telling her everything we were going to do in class that day. She wasn’t a bad kid, she was scared. Teaching didn’t appeal to me as a young person because I remember being in class with some of these “bad kids”, and seeing teachers at their wits end did not seem worthwhile. Teachers are expected to wear many hats when they should be able to focus on teaching. Children are in the unique and often detrimental position of having no say in what their home situations are like, but are expected to be able to focus in school. These experiences made it clear to me that teaching can be wonderful, but learning cannot happen until physical and mental needs are fulfilled. I didn’t know what kind of career I wanted when I left high school, I didn’t even know what I wanted to study in college. I went to college because no one else in my family had, it was something they stressed to me my whole life and I didn’t really know what else to do after high school. I was very fortunate to attend an excellent high school through financial aid and scholarships, but because of this I was one of very few graduates who would be first generation college students, and my family didn’t have the experience to prepare me. I was on my own. I only realized I had to buy books as my friends gathered to take a trip to the book store when we got our class lists. In my first semester, when I wasn’t able to get into classes I needed, I simply didn’t take any others and was surprised at the middle of the semester when I was told I would lose my financial aid if I didn’t add more classes. It took me a while to figure out adding and dropping classes and how to get into a full class and how to manage work study on top of classes and studying and assignments. I didn’t really find my footing until Junior year; if I had had someone to guide me, my first college experience would not have been so rocky. This is why providing job training, career and college exploration is one of my passions. Many of the youth I work with are just like I was- raised in poverty with no idea what’s beyond high school outside of college or a job. A Master of Social Work and school credential will allow me to be the person I needed when I was in school.