Pathway:Older Adults and Families from a Lifespan Perspective
Scholarship:Vivian A. and James L. Curtis Endowed Scholarship for Geriatric Social Work
My resilient grandmother grappled with the effects of ageism and ableism. I heard stories of other grandparents raising grandchildren, and I discovered there were not many programs to help them. I became passionate about healthcare policy regarding older adults.
"I am truly grateful to have received this," says MSW student Christian Conyers of her Vivian A. and James L. Curtis Endowed Scholarship for Geriatric Social Work. "I needed more funding, and it was an honor to receive this scholarship."
Christian was raised by her grandmother in Flint, Michigan. "I have been surrounded by older adults my entire life," she says. "I am passionate about their care and welfare."
One summer while Christian was attending Howard University, her grandmother suffered a debilitating stroke. It was clear she would not regain her speech or even her ability to walk. Her home was not accessible and there was no one to live with her, so doctors recommended a nursing facility. "We thought that, in a couple of months, she would be home," Christian remembers. "Then we realized it would be longer. I was thrown into the whole world of nursing care facilities. I realized there needed to be healthcare reform for older adults, especially those in nursing homes. During my upbringing, my resilient grandmother grappled with the effects of ageism and ableism. I heard stories of other grandparents raising grandchildren, and I discovered there were not many programs to help them. Or, if programs existed, they did not know about them or might not have the ability to sign up for them. Some were ashamed about reaching out for assistance Thus, I became passionate about grandparents raising grandchildren and healthcare policy regarding older adults, especially those in nursing facilities."
After graduation from Howard, Christian remained interested in both the interpersonal and policy aspects of geriatric care. "Social work was the perfect field to focus on both," she says. "I came to U-M because I am from Michigan and grew up hearing about the various programs they offered. In the future, I see myself as an advocate for older adults and their families. I can see myself collaborating to improve the quality of care of older adults in facilities, or as an advocate for policy reform for older adults and their families, or in a nonprofit organization that assists older adults."
Of the Curtis Endowed Scholarship, Christian says "The scholarship has been helpful simply in that I am able to be here. I needed additional funding, so this scholarship definitely impacted my decision to attend the U-M School of Social Work. Donations not only help students better themselves through education. But it allows them to positively impact their entire community and ultimately the world!"
So far, Christian's favorite class is SW 504, Social Justice and Diversity in Social Work. "I love that every week we do a discussion post on the readings and a reflection post about what we are grateful for," Christian says. "I read up to 100 pages and watch videos, and I get very excited about seeing others' posts and their different perspectives on that material. It opens my eyes. I have had conversations with my aunt about social injustice, wondering why certain issues occur, and then the next week I am reading about that very thing. I am so grateful for the course."
And Christian Conyers is grateful for something else. At the end of our interview she says:
"I am grateful for this conversation. It made me realize how much I am enjoying the U-M School of Social Work!"
Why I'm Here
"Social work was the perfect field to focus on both the interpersonal and policy aspects of geriatric care. I came to U-M because I lived in Flint, and the Curtis Scholarship also definitely impacted my decision."
Impact Of The Scholarship
"The scholarship has been helpful simply in that I am able to attend. I needed more funding, and it was an honor to receive this scholarship. I am truly grateful."