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How I found my calling as a social worker at age 21

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graduationcap“Vocation” and “calling” are such buzz words among upperclassmen at a private, Christian liberal arts university. As a graduating senior at Whitworth University (commencement’s less than a month away now!), the constant questions my peers and I hear are “What are you doing after graduation?” and “What are you going to do with that [degree]?” Most of us dread this type of question, because many graduating seniors have no clue what they’re doing with their weekend much less the rest of their lives. Though I have no idea where I am going to work this summer or where I will live this fall, I have finally figured out what I want to do with my degree and with my life.

As a Christian, I definitely believe that God plays a major role in my calling — both in the being called part and the decision-making part. What I don’t believe is that my calling will be handed to me on a silver platter and that it’s an ever-evolving creature; I have learned these lessons over time and not without a few sleepless nights!

As I child, I always thought that I would work with animals, like my parents. For a time, I even wanted to be a veterinarian like my stepdad, but I soon discovered that autopsying a dead horse in 100 degree weather is one of the many veterinary tasks that I absolutely could not handle no matter how much duty called.

Then, in middle school and high school, I developed a passion for volunteering and learned about “servant leadership” (i.e., think of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet) in youth group, on mission trips and through the earnest example of my young, ambitious pastor. I love to help others and began to explore my inner “people-pleaser” by striving to perfectionism in every task and challenge I faced. I realized that I’d always put others before myself, often in unhealthy ways, as I tried to step between my divorced parents and make everyone happy all the time.

Also during this time, I cultivated my love of classic literature and creative writing. I just knew I had to take English courses in college. I thought it’d be a great hobby or a good minor, but God apparently had other plans for me.

Leaving home for college really solidified my “vocation” or “calling” to help others. Being away from my parents and learning how to deal with less-than-ideal roommates taught me how to set healthy boundaries and to practice “self-care” (setting aside time for yourself and knowing when to step away from helping others; if you are in a helping profession and don’t practice self-care both physically and mentally, you will burn out very quickly). I knew I wanted to be in the helping profession and began pursuing psychology in hopes of being a counselor. I also pursued my love of writing and literature though. From my very first college English course, I craved the intellectual stimulation, literary analysis, and engagement with fiction provided within that discipline. I couldn’t help but to become a double major with English. Talk about learning my limits and figuring out how to take care of myself; a double major at an academically rigorous college is HARD!”

Even as a double major and knowing I was pursuing my calling and on what I thought was the fast track to a great vocation, it didn’t take me long to realize that I would need another degree in order to really pursue my calling though. Despite this revelation, I balked at the idea of the amount of schooling needed to pursue a PsyD or PhD. I started looking at Master in Marriage and Family Therapy programs, but given my diverse interests, one of my professors sat down with me to look at the pros and cons of such a degree. What I learned: a MMFT is too limiting for me. Thus, I am pursuing a Master in Social Work, which will allow me to go into counseling, social work, nonprofit work, ministry, organ donation, hospital work, or a plethora of other administrative and helping positions. Interning at Anna Ogden Hall only solidified my decision to pursue this line of work.

I prayed a lot about my decision and about the astronomical financial hurdles involved in enrolling in a master’s program. God never gave me a “Saul moment,” but one thing led to another, over much more time than I originally would have liked, and this fall, I will be attending Baylor University. I couldn’t be happier.

I don’t regret growing up on a ranch or working with animals during summer jobs. I have a diversified outlook on life (not to mention a diversified resume!) and a unique experience from others in my field. I still ended up where I strongly believe I belong.

Now, when people ask me “What are you going to do with that?” I say, “I’m going to be a social worker” without hesitation. It took me awhile to get here, and I still don’t know exactly what I’ll be doing in five years, but if my journey has taught me nothing else, I know that it’ll all work out in the end.

Join us at our next Coffee Talk for a discussion on “Sacred Callings: Jobs and Vocations,” which will take place at 10 a.m., May 3 at Revel 77. Camarillo is a panelist.

Josie Camarillo

About Josie Camarillo

Josie Camarillo is a recent graduate of Whitworth University, where she majored in English and psychology. Currently pursuing her Master in Social Work at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, Camarillo writes for SpokaneFAVS from afar, but plans to return to the Spokane area after attaining her licensure as an independent social worker. She dreams of becoming a relationship therapist and a published author. Her hobbies include photography, horseback riding and writing poetry.

Camarillo has a passion for photography and writing, especially poetry, and is interested in creative counseling methods like narrative therapy and using horses in therapy. Someday, she would like to be a counselor and a published poet. Her favorite poems are "The Singing Woman from the Wood's Edge" by Edna St. Vincent Millay and "The Art of Drowning" by Billy Collins.

During fall 2013, Camarillo worked for Spokane Faith & Values as a copy editing intern, where her specialities included deleting Oxford commas and adding hyperlinks. Since then, she has transitioned into becoming a regular contributor to the site as a writer and photographer.

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One comment

  1. Jeanie Camarillo

    Josie, I am so proud to call you my niece. This piece of writing shows wisdom beyond your years. Love your message, love your insight, love your wisdom, love your faith and most importantly love you. May God continue to walk with you and hold your hand on this journey. He will continue to use you in amazing ways.

    Love and God Bless,
    Aunt Jeanie