“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” –Jeremiah 29:11
For most of my life, I set goals for myself and envisioned closely following those plans, failing to recognize that sometimes God has other things in store for us. By November of senior year of college, I was pretty certain I would be attending University of Michigan for my Master of Social Work (MSW) beginning in Fall of 2019 directly following graduation. I had been accepted into a scholarship program that had a special focus on the integration of mental health and physical health. I was excited and at peace with this decision to go directly into my masters, so much so that I did not expect I would be willing to put these plans on hold. I was aware that long-term service is a popular step for many students from Catholic University following graduation, but I had not allowed myself to consider long- term service because my mind was already set.
Since freshman year, I had been interested in participating in a service and justice spring break immersion trip through Campus Ministry. In March of senior year, I finally answered that call and went to Ecuador for a week. I went into the week with very few expectations, other than my awareness that the focus was on ministry of presence in an underdeveloped community through foundation Rostro de Cristo. I had no idea when we landed in Ecuador that my future plans and life would forever be touched by that experience. After a week of encountering Ecuadorian neighbors of the Rostro de Cristo volunteers and visiting after school programs and clinics, I was deeply moved by the people I met and their way of living. Witnessing the volunteers love in action, called me to reconsider my plan of going directly into my MSW. I felt such a strong call from God to volunteer with Rostro de Cristo. I was able to defer starting graduate school until Fall of 2020 but would have to reapply for all scholarship opportunities.
It is hard to believe that my yearlong detour has drawn to a close. I am now back on track to begin my MSW program this fall. While I have no regrets in my decision to volunteer with Rostro de Cristo, I forfeited a scholarship program I was really excited about. I reapplied for the integrated health scholarship along with two others for this year and was turned down from all of them. It hurt. I had a lot of negative thoughts running through my head about how I went from being accepted one year to being denied the second time around. I wondered what was wrong with me and if I wasn’t worthy of being in this program. While these negative thoughts ran through my head for a while, I never lost sight of my faith. I could feel God telling me to be patient, be kind with myself and trust. Though I did not get admitted into the scholarship program again or any of the others, I put my trust in God that other opportunities would come along during my program.
A significant aspect of the MSW program is completing a field internship with supervision from a licensed social worker a few days a week. I became aware that Michigan’s program has a placement option in the Michigan Medicine hospital system, and was immediately drawn to it. I am interested in becoming a medical social worker and working in a hospital setting to be with and assist patients and their families during their hospital stay. As I went through the process of applying for field, I was really hopeful to be placed with Michigan Medicine. I received a call from an employee in the School of Social Work’s Office of Field informing me that there was only one spot still available for Michigan Medicine, which many students were interested in. They informed me that my application did not appear as strong as some of the other applicants, and I did not have as much experience as the other applicants. Ouch. That’s what I thought to myself. At least she was honest, and I could prepare myself to be placed somewhere else. A few weeks passed, then I received an email from someone at Michigan Medicine informing me that they wanted to interview me. I was shocked to even receive an interview after being told how low my chances are but still held on to hope. I was so nervous for my interview because of how drawn I felt to this placement. Not only did the interview go really well, but I was accepted for a field internship with Michigan Medicine in inpatient adult care management. I was so happy I could cry. To God be the glory. Let this be a lesson to trust yourself and God and never give up on your ambitions, even when people try to convince you that you are not as good as others. My yearlong detour has led to new and exciting opportunities. I have faced many failures throughout my journey, but I decide to not let them defeat me and always come out stronger and grateful. This life is far from perfect, but there is always beauty to be found, even in the midst of failures and trials.