Given the nature of our physical space amid COVID, I was approached by Corinna and Sascha to spend a "virtual day" with the two, rummaging around their mental space. Like many of you, I was curious where all of this started— the root of it all. Sascha, you were introduced to me by Corinna, our "mutual contact" in what was likely 2017. Over the years, I had the pleasure of spending considerable time with you in L.A. and Bay Area. Since then I've heard your stories involving youth outreach and become familiar with how bad*** of a cheerleader you are. I've met your mother as you welcomed me into your home one summer day. One thing that stood out to me through all those times was your calmness that more closely resembles serenity. Underneath that cool, calm and collected self, I quickly learned was a very vocal and thoughtful young woman that I'd later learn was out to change the world. It was incredibly beneficial to take a step out of our busy days to sit, talk, and reflect. The following is what ensued.
I honestly think that you could have been anything you desired. Lucky for us you chose social work! So, I have to ask, out of all the possible fields you could have worked in, what drew you to social work?
Funny enough, I have been drawn to the work before I even knew I was drawn to the work. My parents and longtime friends might say it was an innate calling. I have been supporting others and interested in creating a more fair and just world for as long as I can remember; Starting from when I was a young child, from spending my time with the kids other children did not want to befriend, planning a movement in my area about different local and global issues, working as a camp counselor for at risk youth, or volunteering in the special needs classroom all through middle and high school. You could always find me sticking up for those who felt they could not stick up for themselves, and speaking out on worldwide issues. People have always been drawn to me, you could say “I’ve never met a stranger” when talking with people I don’t know. I often hear “I’ve never told anyone that before.” It was a joke with my friends and family growing up that I was everyone’s best friend. I have always had a way for connecting with people with ease and sparking up a conversation with anyone.
I have always imagined my profession being in a field that helped others and benefited the greater good. When I was young I paid close attention to social patterns and ways in which people did different things when they were in public, when they thought no one was watching, or were seeming upset or embarrassed. I had many ideas surrounding the ways in which I saw people interacting. Initially I thought I wanted to be a phycologist. I started undergrad and took my first sociology class and everything changed for me. All these ideas I had thought about for so long finally had names and theories behind them that I could learn. I then knew that I 100% wanted to work in the field of social work. My desire to help others and make the world a better place for us all, alongside my interest in how individuals operate and the systems that play into that, made it undoubtedly clear that this is what I was meant to do.
Hearing this, in many ways it seems like social work chose you— a natural pairing. Based on our interactions and your insights, you are clearly more than suited to the task. I've been present during one of your workshops with a group of first grade girls and was impressed by your ability to interact with them. Again, your calmness stood out as you coaxed them in a particular direction, either inward or outward. I'm curious, what propelled you to work in youth development, specifically?
Growing up so much of my identity came from the influences of adults in my life and I really believe in the power of supportive adults and peers and the spark they can give for young people. I saw what it did for me and I love being able to be a part of young people's journey.
I believe we learn as much from young people as they do with us and my ability to easily connect with them made a somewhat obvious path in youth development. Often I feel like I leave as fulfilled and enriched as they do!
I've worked as an educator for both first and fourth grade students and I can say with certainty that it is indeed a rewarding experience. I can also so that it takes a lot to push on tackle this challenge with consistency. What about it attracts you and keeps you going?
I am drawn to helping those who need it and making the world work for us all, so the fact that I get to wake up everyday and do something that is actively making a change is a huge attraction for me and keeps me going. Also it is such a beautiful and rewarding thing to get to touch so many lives and be a part of so many people's journey. Seeing the individuals I work with succeed and reach the goals they have set for themselves keeps me coming back. Ultimately my belief that we can and will make change is a driving force that keeps me coming back.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
10 years? Wow. When I think about where we will be in 10 years all I can do is smile! The goals we have, our plans to get there, the lives we will change... it all brings me pure excitement. I often find myself daydreaming of what life will look like then. I wish someone would have asked me this same question ten years ago! It would have been an interesting mental exercise to contrast the answer give by my 18 year-old self! I can honestly say that the future looks bright and I have many projects in the works that I hope will leverage my skills for the better of my community, local and otherwise. Please, ask me this question again in 10 years! Let's see what unfolds!
Sascha, thank you for your time! It's been a real treat to touch base again after several months since our last meeting, where you lead a group of youth through a variety of social-emotional based practices! Oh, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY ;)