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Running head: DIVERSITY STATEMENT 1

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Running Head: EDUCATION AND LIFE EXPERIENCES 5

Diversity

Susan Castro

University of Louisville

University United

The values and vision for inclusiveness and diversity at the University of Louisville are cardinal to obtaining quality professors, staff, and students. I find these values most important because as a non-traditional student with a hearing impairment and a below-average high school education, I wanted to attend a university where I would feel comfortable in all aspects of campus life. I wanted to focus on my education and not worry about where to sit in every class or be ousted for being the oldest student in the class. My hearing impairment has never been a problem as every professor and most students will save a seat for me in the front row of my classes and have never made me go through the disability center to receive these accommodations. A simple conversation is all it took for professors to stand in front of the podium or to the side so I could see their faces. When the mask mandate took place, I had professors offer recordings of their lectures since they had to wear masks in person. Experiencing the helpfulness and indulgent actions of so many people on campus provides a safe and worry-free atmosphere for me and others like me to further our education.

As a social work graduate from Kent School with a bachelor’s degree, a United States NAVY veteran, and a woman who is passionate about human rights and social services, I have the courage, education, and passion to address any injustices, racism, or harm to myself or others on campus or in the community. I am an asset because I have the knowledge and courage to intervene and deescalate situations while maintaining a professional and calm demeanor. With the trust and support of the university, I feel commissioned to uphold the integrity of the university’s values. The University of Louisville has a great inclusive and diverse staff and student body that I am very proud to be a part of.

Running head: EDUCATION AND LIFE EXPERIENCES 1

Running Head: EDUCATION AND LIFE EXPERIENCES 5

Capacity for Self-Improvement

Susan Castro

University of Louisville

My Growth

My tenure in the United States NAVY was a fluctuation of my self-confidence. Through my experiences in the military, I can evaluate a situation and employ my strengths or use my weaknesses as assets. My self-confidence was tested, broken, and reinstated many times throughout my enlistment. Experiencing and understanding how military training works will assist me in the Military Social Work Field.

While onboard the USS PELELIU (LHS-5), a military ship one of the weaknesses I reversed was my self-confidence. I was intimidated by the male-dominated job and how I would compare to them. I let intimidation cloud my thoughts and, I made a mistake that led to me being reprimanded, embarrassed, and feeling completely worthless. I ran towards a helicopter from the front which could and should have caused a fatal injury. Luckily, due to my vertical stature of 5 feet and 2 inches, I escaped this experience with my head intact however, it frightened everyone who was there and led to me being retrained and retested to continue my job. This incident could have hindered my self-confidence beyond repair but with extra training and leadership support, I gained confidence in my ability to do the job and I began to excel. I realized the criticism was needed for me to understand the severity of the mistake and the training empowered me to continue the job. My ability to overcome criticism proved to leadership I can learn from my mistakes and take the necessary measures to prevent them in the future. Finding my self-confidence through these types of experiences allows me to be aware of my strengths and weaknesses. It gives me the confidence to request more training or simply ask for assistance instead of being too intimidated to speak up. I can apply this in the military social work field to help build confidence, self-worth, and empowerment in service members, veterans, and their families.

Running head: EDUCATION AND LIFE EXPERIENCES 1

Running Head: EDUCATION AND LIFE EXPERIENCES 5

How My Military Experiences Built My Character

Susan Castro

University of Louisville

NAVY Experience

Enlisting in the United States NAVY from a small town in Southern Indiana and getting stationed in San Diego, California was one of the most significant adjustments in my life. My experiences in the military instilled in me resilience and adaptability, which I plan to use in the military field of social work at a master’s level. These attributes are my greatest strengths, they have amplified through many of my stressful, demanding, and uncomfortable experiences in the military.

My enlistment in the Navy exposed me to diversity in more ways than I knew existed! I met people of all races, ethnicities, and personalities. I also experienced different types of leadership and positions of authority, which threw me into different roles and types of relationships where I had to be a boss and a friend while keeping the relationships separate. I have visited over 10 countries around the world and have lived in 5 different states in the United States.  Adaptability to new places, people, and environments became methodical as I learned how to build new support systems, make lifelong friendships while utilizing the benefits and resources in the local areas to provide for my family. I familiarized myself with the resource centers on every base, located the library in every city, and learned how to use public transportation everywhere I was stationed. Some places were harder to navigate and find resources, however, my resilience kept me persistent until I found what I needed or at least found a point of contact to assist me.  Resilience and adaptability are key attributes to being successful in the military and I take pride in passing my knowledge to new service members and their families, in hopes of making their experiences as positive and easy as possible. I plan to continue this on a professional level by earning my master’s in military social work and utilizing these characteristics and my knowledge to assist service members, veterans, and their families.

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