I cherish my liberal arts degree. I have a major in English Literature and a minor in Sociology. My background in the humanities and social sciences inspires me to pursue social work at the master's level.
Social work concerns helping the community and the individual. While by no means a black and white definition, I believe that studying sociology helps one understand communities, and studying literature, the individual.
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o's book Petals of Blood is a brilliant breakdown of Kenyan liberation from imperial British rule, through the lens of four individuals. In one of my favorite McGill literature classes, reading Petals of Blood taught me how Britain colonized Kenya through the eradication of their indigenous language, and the imposition of English into their education system. The point of view of Munira, a schoolteacher in Kenya, and his navigation of the country's corrupt education system, illustrates how this genocide of language happened. I keep Thiong'o in mind today, as our country remains plagued by racism and the aftermath of our imperial conquest of the indigenous. I know this point of view will help me in my social work studies, as I see myself working with individuals affected by post-colonialism.
My medical sociology class is one way I studied the community. Our class analysis of the movie The Business of Being Born sticks with me, for it shows how for-profit interests corrupt the US childbirth experience. The film is a critique of the US healthcare system, showing how birth interventions in hospitals are unnecessarily costly and result in a few people at the top of the food chain profiting from the less fortunate. The filmmaker shows how in other countries midwives and natural births get the job done just fine, with way less of a financial burden on the mother and her family. I keep this movie in mind often, as I want to work in medical social work, and change our for-profit healthcare system.
I am sure that a bachelor's in social work can prepare one just fine for study at the master's level. However, the rich of understanding of individuals and communities my literature and sociology studies provide me with motivate me— in a way I'm not sure a bachelor's of social work could. If you have the opportunity, I believe liberal arts study can do the same for you, whether your desired master's is in social work, or any other field of study.
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