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Military Child Observation Report

When I graduated University of Southern California in May of 2014, I was so ashamed of my 2. 59 GPA, I didn’t even want my parents to fly to California to see me walk on Graduation Day. I still didn’t know what I wanted to do with my Bachelor’s in Social Sciences; and in fact, I didn’t have any future plans beyond that point. I tried applying to this program, months before graduation, but became disheartened and couldn’t follow through. I also tried searching for a job in California, but that also failed and I was forced to move back with my parents in South Carolina.

I had no car of my own and this town has no public transportation, therefore, I already suspected it was going to be tedious finding a full-time job with my social sciences degree. Within a few months, my mother recommended that I work with her at a part-time job in a church’s nursery. A few months after that, I picked up a substitute teaching job working on the military base within walking distance from my house. There, I met and befriended many students and teachers that have ties to the Military. The majority of children has excellent manners, and is very smart; others were not quite there.

There could be a number of factors why a child is acting out or behind in school, especially for a military child. Having a parent in the military is challenging. Having gone through it myself, I sympathize with them, but it wasn’t until meeting these kids and realizing how much support they needed, that I decided to seriously pursue a Social Work degree. I say all of this because I want to be completely transparent as to why I am applying to USC MSW program. Relieving the obstacles military children encounter because their parents are protecting our country is how I want to support our troops.

On a larger scale, I desire to help build school programs to support all youth who many not have both parents constantly in their lives. A lot of people assume that being a child was the easiest point of their lives, but the child’s psyche is still very fragile. According to Urie Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory, there are five different levels of environmental systems that affect human development. When these systems change in any way, it can have a big impact on a child’s growth. Unfortunately, a military child’s environment is constantly changing.

For example, if a parent is deployed, this can cause changes in the hierarchy of the home in order to fill in the gap of the missing parent. Military families also often get orders to move, so the military child has to transition to new schools more often than nonmilitary children. A study conducted by USC and Israel’s Bar-Ilan University found that military youth reported having a variety of more problems than their nonmilitary counterparts. Even with so much research done, policy is still not where we want it to be. Consequently, when my family was stationed to Laurel Bay, it was the most burdensome move I’d ever had to make.

I had to go to a public school, where they were on completely different topics than my old school. Being bullied by my peers because of my Californian mannerisms made it more difficult to make new friends. This was also the first time I moved and I wasn’t placed in a Military base school. While that was nearly 10 years ago, and much as changed, there is still more we need to do. For example, adopting the Core Standards in all schools countrywide would really help military children transition from military base schools to public schools.

I’ve had friends that had to repeat grades because they moved from one school that wasn’t on the same level at the school where they moved. Things like that could really help ease the transition to a new school. One area I would really love to research is if nonmilitary minorities and military children have similar attributes. Tamika D. Gilreath’s research has explored mental health disparities in African-American youth, and has recently done a study where she and her team linked suicide and depression to be more common in military students than nonmilitary students.

I would love to take it a further and compare African American and military youth. My thesis is that since African Americans have the highest percentage of single-parent households, their microenvironment resembles that of military children. With single parent households, a child’s environment could be constantly changing with less parental supervision at home, possible step-parents, or even more responsibility given to the oldest child. Therefore, researching how families with these disadvantages could also benefit from programs designed for military families could also benefit the whole school system.

I want to help change the narrative on how some adults label children as “bad” just because they have behavior problems, when really there are underlying issues. I feel a connection with military connected families who may not be able to fathom what it’s like to grow up in the same town all of your childhood, or experienced what it’s like to live without a parent for months, not certain if or when they would return home. My most compelling attribute is not only can I empathize with this special group, but I can also sympathize with others with different experiences than my own.

As I stated before, I work in the nursery of one of the oldest churches in South Carolina. The Parish Church of St. Helena primarily consists of wealthy, Caucasian families whose ancestors fought in the American Revolutionary War. Although these families grew up in a completely different environment than my own, we are more than cordial with each other. I treat their children like I would my own, and they are very appreciative of my services. In my lifetime, I’ve interacted with a wide range of people, and their circumstance never changed how I treated them.

Being a Social Worker is about assisting others regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation; conduct yourself professionally and efficiently, and to uphold relationships above all else. Because of my personal morals and upbringing the social worker’s core values are true to my own. Therefore, I chose to apply to the [email protected] program, because not only am I an alumna and I’m already familiar with USC, but also because with an online program, I’m allowed to stay where I am and still attend the best school in Southern California.

Beaufort, South Carolina may be a very passive town, but it’s exactly where I should be when pursuing my Master’s. USC accepted me because during high school, I received remarkable grades while being in honors classes, and while having many different extra-curricular activities. I’m more focused here because throughout middle school and high school, I learned to flourish in such an environment. Beside that point, I’ve already started forming relationships with students and staff in the schools on the Laurel Bay military base.

I would love to intern and possibly research in schools where I’m currently working. I would love to replicate research experiments previously done on Camp Pendleton and see how they may differ from a base in a much smaller town. Being in Beaufort will bring new perspectives to the table, as well as new research material. In the next five years, I would have already attained my MSW and would have moved to Jacksonville, NC. I want Jacksonville to be my permanent residence because it fulfills my professional demands, as well as my social desires.

It is not too far from my parents, it’s near a military base, and it is also only four hours away from the largest city in North Carolina, Charlotte. I would have joined the North Carolina School Social Workers Association, and with them, working to actively trying to improve the school experiences of students, parents, and the faculty. In the next ten years, I hope to hold a leadership position at NCSSWA, and hope to see my research and work as a Social Worker making a tangible difference in the community.

Coming into USC, I was a Neuroscience major, then I switched to Psychology, then Philosophy, Politics, and Law, and then considered Public Relations before finally landing on Social Sciences with an emphasis in Psychology. I’ve been unsure of a lot of things up until now, but this is the first time I have a definite goal on where I want to be and a plan on how to get there. I’m already in the environment where I can excel in my graduate studies; I just need USC’s paramount education to propel me forward.

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