If you were to enter the office of Andrea Graham at Hastings County Social Services today, you would find a competent, professional and empathetic caseworker assisting low-income families. This involves ensuring the family has food and shelter, medical assistance or helping them to find employment — all with the objective of assisting them in becoming self-sufficient. “Everybody has their story,” she said. “Some days are harder than others for people and I find it rewarding to help them sort through the things they are coping with and work toward solutions.”
It was not that long ago that Andrea was sitting on the other side of the desk. With the help and guidance of Social Services Andrea made the choice to enroll in the Social Service Worker program at Loyalist College and graduated in 2008. Now, as a caseworker, she is able to help others, knowing from personal experience that she can sincerely make a difference.
“Initially it was kind of intimidating to go to college as a mature student. I wasn’t sure that I could make it all work — managing school, dealing with personal issues and being a single parent,” Andrea said. “The professors were phenomenal. They truly understood the needs of a single parent and were more than accommodating when it came to the life situations that just happen. When it was time to find employers where we could do our work placements, they were great at helping us find a fit that really worked for each individual. I can’t tell you how proud I was to walk across the stage at convocation to receive my diploma.
“If someone is considering returning to school and feels that the time is right for them to do so, then they should pursue that. Meet with the faculty and discuss the program and what it involves. There are financial resources that can really make a difference. I was fortunate to receive some awards and a scholarship that helped me pay for my tuition and books. Some days it can seem overwhelming but the positive difference it has made in my life cannot be measured. I love my job. The people that I work with are great. I am so happy to be here.”
The Social Service Worker program is offered in a variety of formats, enabling the students to choose the mode of study that works best for them. Each September there is a regular and an accelerated diploma program available. The accelerated program is designed for those with a related university degree or human studies diploma — as outlined on the College’s website. Adult learners also have the option of the flexible Adult Learners Stream, offered through in-class evening delivery with some of the classes available online.