The highly sought after Diversity of Views and Experiences (DOVE) Fellowship has been awarded to UMD graduate student Kayla Ford. This extremely competitive position seeks individuals by their department affiliation and academic success. Ford graduated with a bachelor of science in psychology with honors from the University of North Dakota; fulfilling her undergraduate degree with a 3.9 GPA which has given her a magna cum laude title.
Ford, a graduate student in UMD’s Master of Social Work (MSW) program, has high aspirations. “After finishing my graduate studies, my career goal is to work with children and families to provide them with better living situations. I would like to do both direct and indirect work. Direct work being case management in which I would work in the home, while indirectly advocating toward improving policies and programs for children and their families,” Ford said.
But her goals don’t stop there. “Following a couple of years in which I gain experience working in the field, I plan to earn my doctorate degree and teach at a university, while conducting research that will help improve the lives of even more children and families.” With these aspirations, it is little wonder that Ford received the University of Minnesota’s DOVE (Diversity of Views and Experiences) Fellowship.
Melanie Shepard, director of the MSW program, is very pleased to have Ford as a DOVE scholar in the program. “Her strong work ethic, exceptional academic achievements and demonstrated commitment to serving others, provides a strong foundation for an exceptional career in the social work profession.”
A Special Honor
Individuals considered for the DOVE Fellowship must also be committed to serving or working with historically underserved or underprivileged populations. Ford was drawn to UMD’s MSW program because of its focus on serving indigenous populations. “The program has a special emphasis on helping American Indians, which I have an interest in and it is my ethnicity. Thus, I feel passionately about assisting this community,” she said.
Ford was by no means sure that she would get the DOVE Fellowship. “I didn’t want to get my hopes up so I tried not to think about it or tell too many people that I was nominated. When I opened the letter my heart was pounding and after reading the first few lines, it was non-stop smiling for the next three days,” she recalled.
She is very grateful to have received the DOVE Fellowship. “The DOVE Fellowship will provide me with an immense amount of financial assistance for graduate school. By supporting me in becoming a social worker, teacher, and researcher, the DOVE Fellowship will allow me to enhance the lives of an unlimited amount of individuals.”
UMD’s MSW Program
Ford chose UMD’s MSW program for a number of reasons. “The Generalist MSW program offers a specialized curriculum in child welfare, where I will be trained to work specifically with children and their families. The program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and has a small student-faculty ratio, which provides me with individual attention to help me be successful.”
She is encouraged by the program’s commitment to help her attain all of her goals. “The program offers a variety of field placement opportunities. The Child Welfare Scholars program provides professional development through both workshops and conferences as well, including opportunities to become more culturally competent. Not only will the program prepare me for working in the field, but it will also prepare me for attending further graduate studies to earn my doctorate degree.”
Ford encourages anyone with a commitment to improving the lives of others to consider pursuing a Master of Social Work. “You don’t have to earn an undergraduate degree in social work in order to apply to the program. If you are interested in helping others enhance their lives, then social work may be the program for you.”
For more information, visit the UMD’s Master of Social Work program website.
(Article provided by UMD External Affairs)