Note: Each year, PeaceWorks-KC gives awards of $1,500 to one or two students at Avila University because of their interest in peace and justice work. One of the 2019 scholars is Paige Rackers, who introduces herself to us here.
I am a senior at Avila University majoring in social work and am also working on attaining minors in psychology and criminal justice. I have volunteered at many different organizations, including Bishop Sullivan Center, Journey to New Life, Reading Buddies, Emmaus Farm in Kentucky, an after-school program in Okolona, MS, and Dear Neighbor Day at Avila. I hope to be a volunteer at Lansing Correctional Facility (Lansing, KS).
A core value of social workers is the dignity and worth of all. I believe in this 100 percent and try to live by this daily. Throughout my classes, I have also learned to meet people where they are at in their journey. If people are not ready to make a change in their life, you cannot force it, but you can give them information and support. I recently took the travel course to India; it was eye-opening and transformative. The way people treated each other and us was incredible. My class went to many colleges and talked with the students. We realized that despite being so far apart and having different cultures, we have many of the same problems. Oppression and discrimination are everywhere but can take many different forms.
In my future career, I want to work in prisons to help develop more rehabilitation programs to decrease the rate of recidivism. I want to make a change in this world. I’d rather shoot for the moon and land on the stars than to aim for the treetop and stay on the ground. Another core value social work has is social justice. We speak up for the oppressed and advocate for their needs. These issues can be homelessness, discrimination, harassment, and other forms of injustice.
I am interested in being a part of PeaceWorks-KC because I believe in taking action and standing up for what you believe in and advocating for change. Receiving this scholar award will help advance my social justice work by providing me with a new perspective. This organization can also potentially help me connect with networks that could help provide me with other resources for the future. Life is too short to do nothing!