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Student Profile: Nicole Rios, Bachelor of Arts in Human Services
CityU’s Bachelor of Arts in Human Services will help Nicole Rios fulfill her dream of working with children and families. As a stay-at-home mom, Nicole appreciates CityU’s online classes and so far has been able to apply her education at her internship at Child Protective Services. She’ll graduate in September 2015 and plans on using her degree to specifically help Spanish-speaking families. Here’s our conversation with Nicole:
City University of Seattle (CU): Can you tell us a little more about yourself? What’s your professional background?
Nicole Rios (NR): My name is Nicole Rios and I love City University of Seattle! I was born in Michoacán, Mexico and my family later relocated to Washington. My mother is Mexican and my father is Caucasian so growing up I was exposed to both Mexican and American cultural traditions. My professional background started at Clover Park Technical College where I earned my Associate Degree in Human Services. While attending Clover Park I participated in an internship at the Metropolitan Development Council where I was an assistant case manager in the PROMISE program, providing intervention for prostitutes to change their lives. I graduated from that college and utilized my degree in human services to obtain a position at Multicultural Child and Family Hope Center where I was a parent-child visitation supervisor for two years. I supervised, transported, and documented visits that parents had with their children after their children were removed by Child Protective Services (CPS). This work experience really reassured my passion for working with children and families.
I became pregnant with my second child while employed and decided to become a stay-at-home mom with my two children while my husband worked two jobs in order to support us. I later decided to continue my education and found CityU, which provided online classes that perfectly fit my lifestyle. I decided to aim for a bachelor’s in human services with an emphasis in children and adolescents. My internship coordinator found me a great opportunity to intern at the Department of Social and Health Services with CPS in the Family Assessment Response program. In this program I closely worked with my amazing supervisor in response to low to moderate allegations reported to CPS of child abuse and/or neglect. My work there focused on engaging families, providing intervention, and providing services to families to keep children safe. It was an amazing, life-changing learning experience.
I will be officially done with my classes September of 2015 and will continue to utilize my educational experience, work experience, internship experience, and life experience to apply to the human services field.
CU: Why did you decide to enroll in the bachelor’s in human services?
NR: I decided to enroll in the human services program at CityU because I am passionate about this field and working with children and families. (I am married and have two young children ages 2 and 5.) By helping others in the community I get a high sense of satisfaction knowing I can change people’s lives. I really wanted to have a career that would allow me to financially support my family and independently support myself. The online courses, extremely positive feedback regarding CityU, and transfer scholarship were the deciding factors that influenced my decision in selecting CityU. And of course my wonderful guidance counselor, Jenn Caton, who continuously guided me throughout my time at CityU. I had a strong support system during my professional journey and that reflects on my family.
CU: What did you learn, and how will this degree help further your professional goals?
NR: I have learned a tremendous amount of information and have had experiences in this field that will assist me in achieving my future goals as a professional. I learned about ethics and have applied them to my internship and even personal life. I gained a stronger understanding of client confidentiality, improved boundaries, and learned more about my own morals, values, and dilemmas that were relevant to human services. I gained self-awareness, continuously learning about my own cultural background, learned about other cultural backgrounds, acceptance of other cultures, and demonstrated cultural competency in my profession. This aspect is very important to me because we’re all different and come from different backgrounds. With our diverse and unique population in America and internationally it is important to pay attention to multicultural factors when working with clients and others in the real world. I will continue to grow and develop my professional skills and practice in order to serve children and families, specifically in Spanish-speaking communities.
CU: You interned at Child Protective Services. How did your education at CityU prepare you for that position?
NR: My education at CityU prepared me for my internship placement with CPS in so many ways. The courses I had taken at CityU directly related to my internship placement. I learned about child psychology, adolescent psychology, psychology over the human lifespan, the family, juvenile delinquency, professional communication, principles of ethics, organizational systems, critical thinking, interviewing, and much more! I feel CityU definitely prepared me for my professional future. Most importantly CityU helped me intern with an agency where I wanted to be. Many people struggle to get their foot in the door at CPS, so that exposure and experience with the staff at the Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) is something I owe to CityU.
CU: Would you encourage others to study human services at CityU? Any advice for them?
NR: I would definitely encourage others to study human services at CityU. Given the situation I was in – being a stay-at-home mom with two young children – CityU was a perfect fit for me to be able to care for them at home and be flexible with my schedule to study. At CityU I’m able to complete my BA in less than two years. I started in January of 2014 and expect to officially graduate in September of 2015. Along with being a mom, wife, full-time student, traveling to Mexico, and successfully completing my internship I had many responsibilities and was constantly busy. By no means was it easy, but absolutely obtainable due to the fact I was so driven and focused throughout my time at CityU. My advice would be to stay focused, never give up, utilize every drop of education, and take advantage of the internship experience because time flies.
CU: Are you planning to apply for jobs after you graduate? Where do you want to end up?
NR: Yes! One of the requirements to work at DCFS is an employee must have two years of post BA case management experience in human services. So I have applied for employment as a Bilingual Case Manager at a different agency called Catholic Community Services. Once I have had two years of experience I plan on returning to DCFS and serving children and families. I especially want to provide services to Spanish-speaking families, which is something that is highly needed in the human services field.