From the very beginning, it’s been a “God thing” for Shalicia Holman.
First, it was finding Huntington University — a Christian college even though she hadn’t considered a religious school. Then, it was becoming a social work major, even though she planned to major in psychology and minor in journalism. And finally, it was getting a job as a family specialist at White’s Residential and Family Services right after graduation.
“God had a plan for me,” said Holman, a 2010 graduate.
Holman began working at White’s Family Services in Indianapolis, Indiana’s largest social services agency, in May 2010 after having interned with the agency during college. As a family specialist, she works mostly with children who have been in tough situations or those who are now in foster care.
“I’m grateful for having a job,” she said. “I think it would have been a lot harder if I hadn’t interned there first.”
Holman has found social work to be exactly what she wanted out of life — exactly what she was looking for when she wanted to major in psychology. It’s a chance to be with people, and more importantly, help them.
“They are just really broken, and they have a lot of hurt,” she said. “For me, it’s when they’re struggling with something and they just get that ‘Aha!’ moment or they start to make growth. … I just want to guide them in some way. I think that’s the best part.”
Holman explained that it was actually Professor Carla MacDonald, assistant professor of social work, who pushed her to switch to the social work department. And she’s grateful for that decision and the friendship with MacDonald that has since developed.
“I was set (on psychology), but (social work) was a good fit. And it was the right decision,” she said. “I don’t regret the decision at all.”
Holman’s time at HU taught her about human behavior and social environments. It challenged her views on life and that of other cultures.
“(When you are a social work major at HU), you look at the bigger picture,” she said. “You’re looking at the whole process, the cycle and taking the time to step back and (consider) that.”
As a social worker, Holman says that she tries to understand the situations that these children face, rather than automatically judging them or their parents.
“I think I learned a lot. I think I learned a lot about myself,” she said, explaining that the most important part is having empathy. “You have to work through those tough issues.”
And sometimes the hardest part can be leaving those issues behind when you walk out of the door at the end of the day.
“You have to have boundaries with your personal life and your professional life,” she said. “I have a hard time making that boundary, saying that work is over at this time and not picking up that phone. I can’t help these kids if I don’t take care of myself.”
But Holman still loves her job and is consistently grateful for it — even on the tough days.
“If someone asks me about social work, (I say) it’s a very emotionally draining job, but I love my job,” she said. “It’s amazing what God’s plan was.”
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