Why has B.S.W. student Leah Rolando chosen to study social work?

Rolando knows that the answer most people give is “I like helping people” but for her, that’s what it comes down to. Despite the myriad of careers out there under the umbrella of “helping people” such as nursing, psychology, education, she knows she wants a career that allows her to speak up for people who aren’t able to speak up for themselves. After attending a B.S.W. Social Work Open House and meeting Tuwana Wingfield and other practicing social workers, she knew there was a career out there that fits what she wanted to do in life.

Rolando lost several people whom she knew and cares deeply for to suicide and that sparked her passion for mental health treatment and suicide prevention. “You start to ask yourself, ‘Why don’t people talk about it?’” she said. To help the Illinois State community learn to talk about it and make a difference, she co-founded the Illinois State University chapter of To Write Love on Her Arms, “a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide.”

Rolando’s ambition is to change the way we deliver mental health treatment. She is highly involved in Student Affairs and Student Government and wants to combine her love of outreach and awareness with the experience she has received so far working within large institutions. Rolando would love to eventually end up in an administrative position where she would know on an individual level what people need but be able to see the big picture and speak up for people who are in places that just get overlooked.

According to Rolando, the people at Illinois State make the University. She feels free to speak to any of her professors not only about the class work but also about their experiences as social workers. She said the freedom to just sit down, chat, and network without having to go through a formal process is invaluable to students. She likes how the School of Social Work is in touch with other organizations on campus such as student counseling and F.L.A.M.E. (Feminist Led Activist Movement to Empower) as well as being tied in with the greater community. “There are so many opportunities to get involved, not only academically but tying your academic experience in with your greater involvement at ISU,” Rolando said.

Rolando is only one of our many students in the School of Social Work already working to change her community. We eagerly look forward to see what other changes she has in the future for the world!