Born and bred in Invercargill, Monica came to the University of Otago straight after high school.
“I started with Health Sciences, I originally wanted to do medicine,” she says.
Why did you choose to study Social Work?
“I initially wanted to do medicine, but explored papers in psychology, sociology and social work. Social work sounded more like me because it was hands-on. You were right in there instead of sitting and making judgements about people; letting clients decide what they want to do and how, helping them get there. My first placement was with Arai Te Uru Whare Hauora, which I really enjoyed as it was very much tailored to individual needs, and my second placement was with a government organisation, which taught me tolerance and patience.”
What advice would you give to people wanting to study Social Work?
“Take social work if you enjoy working with people. You’ll be working with them all the time, every day. When you leave uni give yourself some time to find your feet. The job is quite challenging but it is also very rewarding.”
What’s the Social Work programme like?
“The lecturers are quite giving and very helpful. You know that you are always well-supported by the staff and by your classmates.”
What is it like being a Social Worker?
“A lot of people have an unrealistic idea about social work – either it will change the world, or take away your children.
“You have to be role models; to learn to balance what you have with what you’ve learned in order to provide support and advocacy to people and to families.
“Also, the skills acquired in a social work degree are transferrable to many other occupations, for example, youth work, teaching, counselling. You acquire a good skill set, a good foundation, so that you don’t have to be stuck in one field.
“In social work practice you are given a map to release your potential - ‘Just Do It’!”