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Mariana Argüelles Alcázar, MSW '18

  • Sexual Health Program Assistant, Wolverine Wellness
  • Latinx Social Work Coalition President
  • Country:

Why did I decide to apply to UM-SSW?

I was born and raised in Mexico and moved to the US when I was 19. I had the great privilege and opportunity to come to the US to study. I was going to a new country and leaving my loved ones behind, so I decided I wanted to make the most out of it and be the best I could be (go big, or go home hahah). That's why I decided to apply to the #1 school of social work in the country.

How has the learning experiences been for me?

I came to SSW knowing that I wanted to be a therapist. I was not excited about having to take policy, evaluation, and community organizing classes. But I am so glad I had to, and I'm glad this is something that all students have to do, regardless of their practice method and area of concentration. My interests have broadened a lot since I started school and I have a better understanding now of how all these areas affect the practice of social work and why knowing about them is so important, regardless of what "type" of social worker you want to be.

What was challenging and what helped?

It was all very challenging; being away from home, not being a native English speaker, adapting to a new culture. I think the most challenging was realizing how misinformed people are about my country and how many stereotypes exist about people from my culture. I found myself constantly trying to educate people, not always being successful. It was disheartening and exhausting. I decided to join the Latinx Social Work Coalition, to which I'm the president now. Surrounding myself with people that share some of my identities, that understand my struggles, and that are willing to advocate for our community was really empowering and gave me hope.

Significant experiences/changes that occurred to me while being here

U-M is a huge institution! Which means that it has so many opportunities for students. Pretty much anything you're interested in, Michigan has it. I'm passionate about sexual health, in fact I want to be a sexual health educator and therapist. This school gave me the opportunity to explore my passion and further my knowledge in so many different ways, through classes focused on sexuality, extracurricular activities as a sexual health peer educator, and even a job as a sexual health program assistant! These experiences have allowed me to find the career path that I want to follow after graduation, but have also helped me gain the skills that I need to succeed in this field.

Advice for prospective/incoming students

I want to encourage more international students to apply! This place needs you! It will be scary, and it will be hard, but it's so worth it. We have so much to offer to this school, we have unique experiences and perspectives that make this learning environment richer for everyone.

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