Meet April! April graduated from UMBC in 2008 and from the University of Maryland, Baltimore School of Social Work in 2010. April currently works at Medical Management and Rehabilitation, Inc. (MMARS) as a Development Disability Administration (DDA) Waiver and Self-directed Specialist. Learn about her experiences at USG and see what she is up to now.
Starting from when you began your program at USG, what steps did you take to get to where you are today in your career?
While at UMBC at USG, I had the opportunity to work closely with my advisors, and in doing so, I was able to successfully complete my bachelor’s degree in Social Work. During my last year at USG, I explored post-graduate options. I decided that I wanted to pursue a Master’s degree in Social Work specializing in families and children, with a dual MACRO/Clinical concentration. I enrolled in the University of Maryland, Baltimore School of Social Work at USG, where I was recommended for the advanced standing program. I completed my Master’s degree in a little over a year and that gave me the most amazing sense of accomplishment. My life experiences, and my internships during both undergraduate and graduate school, really influenced me to choose a career where I could help people, specifically, where I could provide counseling for families. I began counseling with a colleague, at Journey’s Crossing Counseling, through my church. The counseling center closed a few years later, but I still volunteer with my church to provide support, referrals, resources and guidance to those in our community who need it. Currently, I work at Medical Management and Rehabilitation, Inc. (MMARS), where I help individuals who have developmental disabilities. I thoroughly enjoy working with people and helping them work through their challenges so that they can reach their ultimate achievements.
What do you do at your current job?
I currently work at Medical Management and Rehabilitation, Inc. (MMARS) as a Development Disability Administration (DDA) Waiver and Self-directed Specialist. I monitor individuals who have developmental disabilities to make sure they are connected to the resources they require to help them to live, work and enjoy their community as successfully and independently as possible. I am a liaison and advocate for my clients between DDA, their provider, families and any other organization/agency they might be involved with. My day is typically spent going out in the community to visit my clients. I conduct assessments of their needs, and check on them to see how they are doing, especially if I have not heard from them in a while. I help them create annual individual plans and develop goals for them to work towards achieving throughout the year. I assist them with the process of connecting to providers and acquiring funding for the providers. I also research and make referrals to community resources that would be useful to my clients. I see myself as my clients’ cheerleader and encourage their independence in the community.
How did your time at USG prepare you for your career?
USG prepared me for my career in many ways. I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for the team of caring and conscientious faculty and staff who helped me get through really challenging times while I was in school. I had terrible experiences with extreme financial hardship, chronic illnesses, and tragic family problems at various points throughout my time at USG. But, every time, there was always a kind ear, useful advice and clear guidance from these individuals at USG that helped me navigate, even when I could not see my own way through.
My classes prepared me very well, academically, for my career. Courses were rigorous; some were just downright HARD!! But, whatever challenges I experienced with my courses, there was always a student, professor or advisor with which I could glean, learn and bounce ideas. Even today in my career I am constantly recalling things that I learned in class. Those moments flood me with pride to realize what a great education I received at USG.
Advisors at USG are so good at matching students with awesome internships. I had the great opportunity to intern at a school for children with emotional disturbances. It was right up my alley! I learned so much about therapeutic work within the academic realm. I experienced several dynamic aspects while working with the students and their families. My time there truly enriched my desire to work with families and children.
The greatest experiences at USG involved interacting with the student body and the community outside of the classroom. USG has a huge variety of student clubs, organizations and activities. My involvement in these extracurricular opportunities provided a rich opportunity to connect with people outside of my “usual” circles, and broadened my perspective. I enjoyed being a part of the Student Social Work Associations at USG, the Social Work Honor Society Phi Alpha, Student Council, Christian Fellowship Club and various community outreach organizations. I’ve delivered numerous speeches at various USG events, many of which were attended by Montgomery County dignitaries and donors. I had opportunities to take part in various USG activities such as the picnics, casino nights, dances, movies, parties, and various other celebrations. USG has such a vast diversity and is rich with culture. I love that USG opens opportunities to express our diversity through student activities, clubs and organizations.
What was your most memorable experience at USG?
Although I have delivered numerous speeches at various USG events, I think the most memorable one was my first speech, where I spoke before the Board of Regents. I’ve told this story many times. When I first attempted to apply to UMBC at USG I was literally penniless. I wanted so much to continue my education after graduating from Montgomery College, but I could not even afford the application fee. But I had made up my mind that I would not quit. I figured, “Hey! I am an ‘A’ student…that’s got to be good for something right?” I ran a computer search on UMBC’s website for someone, ANYONE, I could possibly connect with. I picked the first name I saw, and composed a lovely, informative, and persuasive email explaining my situation. And…Eureka!! A breakthrough! I was granted an application fee waiver! I immediately applied and was subsequently accepted into the best academic program of my life! Well, it turns out, the person who helped me just happened to be the President of the University, Dr. Freeman Hrabrowski! I had learned that after I had started school, and soon afterward, I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Hrabrowski in person. It was an amazing experience and feeling. To this day, I count Dr. Hrabrowski as not only one of my mentors, but also as a friend.
In 140 characters or less, what message would you give to future graduates?
Always believe that dreams do come true…it just takes a plan and incremental steps to achieve them!