Aspiring Social Worker & Human Services Major’s Inspiration to Make an Impact in Manchester

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Human Services major at Granite State College.

Alicia MacDonald’s optimism and strong desire to help others instantly shines through. Chatting with her, you would never know that she struggled during her first two years of high school, after she fell in with the wrong crowd.

Alicia’s attention to schoolwork and her grades plummeted as she watched a close friend battle addiction. Instead of losing hope, she found meaning in a new vision for her future.

With new motivation, the help of a social worker, and a supportive family, Alicia excelled in her junior and senior years. As she neared high school graduation, she decided that whatever career path she took, she would go to college and work towards making a positive difference in the lives of others.

Before coming to Granite State College to study Human Services, Alicia earned an associate degree at New Hampshire Technical Institute (NHTI). As part of her degree program, Alicia interned at Webster House, a Manchester safe haven for youth who for many reasons cannot stay in their own home.

Webster House put me face-to-face with individuals who have suffered through some traumatic life events. I think that every child should have a chance. What I’ve learned is that, in social work, your prime goal is to give kids the tools they need to succeed.

As a full-time student, Alicia enrolled in a broad selection of courses, ranging from addiction and criminal justice to law and ethics, with the goal of becoming a well-rounded social worker. As she progressed toward her bachelor’s degree, Alicia continued to excel in her classes and reflects on how each course has confirmed her career choice while opening her eyes to new ideas.

It was wonderful to come into a class thinking one way on a subject and leave with multiple perspectives. It really helps you to think critically and be more open. Because many of my teachers were working professionals, their belief in me inspired me to believe in myself—that I could do things like home visits, even if they can be challenging.

Alicia’s personal experience with New Hampshire’s opioid crisis influenced her greatly.

Knowing someone who was addicted to drugs really changes your worldview. People think that an addict has a stereotypical look, but it could be the person sitting next to you. Beyond that, addiction also affects relatives, friends, and the community. This made me want to learn more about substance use disorders. For individuals and their families struggling with physical dependence and addiction, I want to be part of the solution.

In 2018, Alicia graduated with her bachelor’s degree with a sense that anything is possible, including her next educational and career goals: earning a Master of Social Work Degree and working for an agency that helps families, and especially kids, who are in difficult situations.

I grew up in New Hampshire and with my education, I want to make a difference in my community. I look forward to becoming a voice for those in need. I can’t imagine a more exciting and challenging career.

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