Social Work Student's Work with Violence Prevention Leads Her to Washington, D.C.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 7, 2014) — CARE International, a humanitarian organization designed to fight global poverty, invited college students from across the nation to their annual conference in Washington, D.C. this past March, including University of Kentucky College of Social Work student, Santana Berry, one of two citizens who represented the state of Kentucky.
The purpose of the annual conference was to brief the various state representatives on issues CARE focuses on and to meet with congressional representatives about global issues such as, gender based violence, food aid reform, and the humanitarian crisis in Syria. Berry was recommended to CARE by her mentor LeTonia Jones, adjunct faculty member in the College of Social Work, and Berry wrote about her experience as part of her Community and Social Development Practicum.
“I was very pleased that Santana was able to represent Kentucky at the CARE conference," Jones said. "I recommended her because I have witnessed Santana grow tremendously over the years, both as a person and in her advocacy. In developing her own voice I felt like she was in the perfect place in her education and in her life to advocate on international women’s issues related to poverty. I couldn’t be more proud of her.”
Berry attended three days of workshops to help prepare her and other conference attendees about CARE's issues and how to best talk about these issues with politicians the next day on Capitol Hill.
Berry, a native of Louisville, and a first generation college graduate, earned a bachelor's degree in social work from UK in 2011. She will graduate in May with a Master of Social Work (MSW) concentration in community and social development.
Berry's interest in poverty and violence stems from personal experience.
"I myself am a survivor of violence," Berry said. "However this issue is of great interest to me also because of its global impact. The perpetration of intimate partner violence is essentially the same around the world. It is interesting to me that a small percentage of violent individuals can cause such traumatic impacts around the world. Also when someone is impacted by violence they are not only impacted in that moment but for the rest of their lives."
Berry gained experience while she was a student volunteer at the Violence Intervention and Prevention (VIP) Center at UK working with incarcerated battered women at the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association and GreenHouse 17, formerly known as the Bluegrass Domestic Violence Program, a local domestic violence shelter. However, it is because of Berry's personal experience growing up in poverty and experiencing intimate partner violence, that CARE considers her to be an expert.
Berry was interviewed several years ago for a promotional video for the VIP Center's "In Love's Service" play. She says this is where her passion for violence prevention began.
"Telling my own story allowed space within me to focus on preventing this violence from occurring for others."
Berry said that she's not sure what's next for her after graduation, but she could easily see herself engaging in policy analysis and advocacy.
"This experience will be very helpful for me in the future as a social worker. Regardless of what population I work with in the future, I will need to be able to advocate for my clients."
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