Hey, y’all, my name is Maria Pellicier and I use she/her pronouns. I grew up in Monrovia, MD before moving to New York City to study social work and Spanish at New York University. I graduated from NYU in 2020 (in my parent’s living room!) and then shortly moved back to Brooklyn to work at a foster care agency where I was the caseworker for an all-girls group home. Although my job as a caseworker was extremely rewarding for the interpersonal relationships I was able to foster with clients, I witnessed firsthand the lack of resources available to youth and families involved in the child welfare system–particularly education and employment resources.
For various reasons, I realized that I needed to take a break from working in social work and re-evaluate what I wanted to do before trying to return to graduate school. Johnson Service Corp provided the perfect opportunity for me to do that. From getting to work at Durham Children’s Initiative (DCI) as well as having Fridays for personal reflection and professional development, I’ve been able to reflect on my passion for the social work field and will be attending the University of Michigan to pursue my Masters of Social Work on the Community Change track. During my time at DCI, I’ve been a part of the STEAM Saturdays and Coaching program. For Academic Coaching, our department looks both at the grades students receive as well as their answers on our Social Emotional Learning Assessment form that they fill out every 9 Weeks. This way, our program is able to look at what our students are learning as well as how our students are engaging in their education and growing as the school year goes on. Both of these programs have been incredible opportunities for me to learn about the implementation and evaluation of a community change program.
On top of personal growth, during JSC I’ve learned about building an intentional community amongst my housemates in Durham and the other house in Carborro. One of the things that I’ve found most life-giving has been sharing meals together— not only do I love to cook for others, but I also have loved trying my roommate’s amazing meals. Since my time in college, I’ve discovered how important it is to my health and well-being to sit down at the end of a long day and enjoy a home-cooked meal. Getting to do that with 4 friends has been one of my highlights for the year and something I will continue to bring with me as I move to Michigan to begin grad school.