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Single mother toughs it out to earn degree

Lavaris Nelson. Photo courtesy of the Charlotte Observer.

Lavaris Nelson. Photo courtesy of the Charlotte Observer.

It took more than a decade of stops and  starts but Lavaris Nelson finally earned her bachelor’s degree in social work, according to this article in the Charlotte Observer.

Nelson overcame two failed relationships, moves to different cities, family strife, job changes and the birth of two children, but managed to go back to school and get a degree.

In order to graduate this year in May Nelson took 9 classes during her final semester. The average student takes five.

“I wanted to walk. I had to walk. I had to be done, because I want to go on and get my master’s. I’ve waited long enough. I’ve wasted enough time. I’m 31. I’m not getting any younger,” she said.

Nelson took part in a new Johnson C. Smith University program that offers more flexible class schedules for adult students.

Nelson started a new job in April at the Charlotte Crisis Assistance Ministry, helping clients secure food stamps, Medicaid and other assistance.  Nelson said she is in a unique position to offer assistance because she  needed such help, too.

Eventually she wants to become a licensed clinical therapist helping at-risk youth.

“I want to be an inspiration to my girls,” she said. “I want them to be able to say, ‘My mom, she may have been a single mother, but she went to school, she got her degree.'”

Do you think you would like to go to school to become a social worker? Visit the National Association of Social Workers’ “Be A Social Worker” website.

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  1. hiiiiiii,

    i am msw student
    May get inspired by the movements of society

  2. Congratulations! (But a decade of schooling and we still mess it up: “She wants to become a LICENSED CLINICAL THERAPIST..” ARRRRRRRRRRRGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!)

    Is that really to be the essence of masters level social work?

    Still, her accomplishment is inspiring and her objectives, noble.

    Not to diminish the accomplishments of Ms. Nelson. But to put things in perspective: there are remarkable women making such notable accompolishments every year. I teach in a small BSW program: most of our graduates are “non-traditional students,” most have children, several have been homeless or vistims of domestic violence, some have served in the military, and uniquely, this years class was surprisingly 25% male. Indeed, ample opportunity for inspiration.

    Just for example, Dawn graduated with her BSW last May. Two years ago in her junior year, she became a homeless single parent of five when the rental house where she lived with her two children and three “kin-care” foster / adopted children was forclosed upon and she was forced out by the bank. At the time she was a full time student, raising five kids alone, working part time in a shelter for pregnant teens. Through sheer tenacity and exercising strategies she learned pursuing her BSW, she found funding to actually buy a forclosed house in need of repair, convinced a male friend who was in the construction business to lend his guidance, got the house habitable, moved in, graduated from college on schedule, started graduate school, married the construction guy (custodial father with two kids of his own & volunteer little league coach) had another baby last month and graduated with her MSW yesterday.

    It wears me out to even think about it!

  3. I am pleased to hear the awesome stories. I hear Social Workers onlyy make 12.00 starting off,will she be able to afford the rent?

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