Loyola University Maryland

Latin American and Latino Studies

Loyola graduate continues her studies looking for ways to effect positive change

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Rachel ForbesRachel Forbes, ‘08, is presently pursuing a Master in Social Work degree with an international (Latin American dimension) at Monmouth University in New Jersey. After graduating from Loyola with majors in Spanish and Psychology, Rachel embarked on a journey to San Diego, and met many interesting people who spoke Spanish. But she realized that to secure a position where she could work with Spanish-speaking people she needed either and advanced degree in Psychology or an MSW degree. She concluded that psychology was a Western framework that tended to pathologize people. Social work, on the other hand, tended to look more at assets and strengths making it a much more positive option to get involved with helping people after graduation. Two LALS courses were fundamental in laying the ground-work for Rachel’s post-graduation decisions. These were ML320: Liberation Theology from its Origins and SN304: Contemporary Central America. In the former, from the Peruvian liberation theologian Gustavo Gutiérrez, Rachel learned that lasting development does not come solely from fortification of economic infrastructures but must begin with the development of the whole person, finding ways to reconstruct society from the people up. From the latter, she realized the enormity of destruction of Central America’s civil wars and how the participatory sociology developed by Ailsa Winton in Guatemala allows interaction between people and social science. She takes these early influences into her MSW studies. During spring 2010, Rachel spent two and half weeks with street kids in Guatemala City, asking questions (after first gaining their trust so they would respond to her), and then compiling research to understand violence from the street up. In April, Rachel came back to Loyola to share her research model in a very informative lecture that was well received by students. Fall 2010, Rachael takes on a new challenge. She will be at the United Nations representing international social work interns!

Read Rachel’s blog on her Guatemala trip.