Our Q&A with Jamie

Why did you decide to pursue a Master’s in Social Work? What do you like about the MSW program at MSU Denver?

“I decided to pursue my Master’s in Social Work after I worked at the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Adams County Human Services. Within the three years of working with different populations, it was clear that people needed help. I wanted to learn more about how to be proactive instead of reactive when it came to helping people.

The MSW program at MSU Denver has truly changed my view of the world. Throughout these past three years in the program, I have learned how to listen and understand instead of merely listening to respond. I have learned how to be present and powerful. The teachers in this program are extremely inspiring and have become a solid foundation for my learning and my future. I have grown so much within this program because I had individuals who not only believed in me but empowered me to work towards my goals.”

What do you hope to accomplish in the field of social work?

“At this time, I am in the midst of starting a nonprofit for prison reform. My teacher, Kristin Atkinson, approved my idea for my Capstone class and has been assisting me along the way. The name of the nonprofit it called REshape and is designed to reshape the minds of society regarding incarceration and incarcerated individuals. REshape is an acronym for Re-Sist, Re-Habilitate, Re-Act, Re-Prieve, and Re-Entry. “Turning bars into ladders.”

Within Capstone 1, I was able to form a board and begin the planning and implementation process. As of now, the Articles of Incorporations have been completed. The board is now working on the Bylaws. We are submitting the 501c3 application to the state in May 2021.

My drive for this nonprofit has a lot to do with my classes at Metropolitan State University of Denver and the knowledge that this population has been overlooked for a long time. I received my bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and Psychology from MSU Denver and moved onto my MSW. The more knowledge about vulnerable populations, the more I asked myself who I wanted to serve and what I wanted to accomplish.

I decided that I wanted to make a change in the world. I realized that I no longer want to talk about change; I am ready to act on it.”

What or who has been your biggest source of inspiration and motivation?

“My biggest source of inspiration would be my brother and my mom. My brother was sentenced to life in prison when I was 22 years old. It was after this that I went back to school for Criminal Justice and Psychology in order for me fully understand people’s actions, past traumas, and compartmentalization. I speak with him often, and he has been a huge support for me when it comes to following my dreams.

My mom was a single mother and has worked hard to help me get to my goals. She taught me to treat others as equals and to not pass judgment. She taught me how hard work truly pays off and how you have to continue through the rain in order to feel the sunshine.

My grandpa and grandma helped raise me since I was a baby and continuously motivated me to follow my dreams. My aunt has been a strong, empowering influence on my life as well. All in all, I’ve come from a strong family who created a solid foundation for me to grow. It is with that, that I hope to create a solid foundation for those who were not as supported in the past.”

Advice for students considering applying to the MSW Program at MSU Denver? How can undergrad students prepare for graduate school in general?

“My advice to other students is to be sure that this is what you want to do and to find your “why” before beginning the program. This program forces you to look at the depths of yourself when it comes to your own traumas and biases. It helps you establish solid boundaries and understand what self-care means to you.

Undergrad students can prepare by utilizing the writing center. Graduate school is more in-depth when it comes to writing and how to frame certain opinions. There is a lot of writing in grad school compared to undergrad, and it is important to prepare for that.”

You said you’re writing a poetry book; can you tell us more about that?

“My poetry book is called “Broken Strings” and focuses on the process of grief and hardship. There are five chapters: Pain, Jaded, Wild, Transformation, and Revival. I have utilized the power of writing in order to heal and fully understand more about myself. This book is meant to assist others with their healing process and to accept their demons before learning how to face them. It is truly a story of transformation and revival, but also that you cannot transform until you understand the traumas and pain.”