Ashley Kissinger '14
Ashley Kissinger ('14) of Lancaster, PA will graduate with a double major in Social Work and Spanish. She loves Elizabethtown's small school size and the reputation it has for the Study Abroad Program. Ashley describes Elizabethtown's campus as feeling like a community.
"The motto 'Educate for Service' has taught me the importance of the combination of class room knowledge and text book intelligence with real life application of skills and understanding of the world around me."
In the summer of 2010, Ashley had the opportunity to travel to the Dominican Republic for two weeks on a mission trip with an organization called Orphanage Outreach. During this trip, she stayed at a all-boys orphanage, living in a large cement building, with holes carved out for windows, and she slept under a mosquito net. Ashley said that this trip really opened her eyes to the world around her and helped her realize the passion that she has for serving others.
The Social Work Program has had a profound impact on Ashley as a student and as a person. She loves the relationships that she has with her professors, and the time they dedicate to their students. She states they have been able to teach her so much about the profession of social work, and have encouraged her to work hard and to want to make a difference in the world.
"For me, the professors are honestly what have made me love being a Social Work major. Elizabethtown Social Work has given me the opportunity to change my perspectives and broaden my horizons by learning about the world around me. It has given me an opportunity to connect my passion for serving others with a future career that I can be proud of."
As part of her Social Work curriculum, Ashley has interned and participated in service learning opportunities in a variety of settings including: Head Start, Elizabethtown Senior Center, Capital Area Therapeutic Riding Association, Adoptions from the Heart, and Masonic Village. She has had the opportunity to work with clients from many age groups and engage in different types of social work practice.
Since Ashley is a Spanish major, it was important to the Social Work Department that they help nurture her Spanish speaking skills as well as her social work skills. At her Head Start placement, Ashley was able to complete home visits with Hispanic families and she worked to translate for families whose first language is Spanish.
For all Spanish majors, it is required that students study abroad. Ashely recently came home from Ecuador where she lived with a host family. She attended the University of San Francisco De Quito, which is one of the top universities in Ecuador. She interned at Amigos Benefeactores de Enfermos Incurables (ABEI), a center for children with incurable illnesses that receive services such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. She assisted in helping to connect children to services and in finding ways to pay for those services if needed. She also worked to gather donations for the children for their Christmas party.
"I spent the weekdays in class, doing homework, or at internship, squeezing in time with friends and my host family. Some weekends I spent my time zip lining through the forest, rafting through rivers, horseback riding in the Andes, or mountain biking down volcanoes. Other weekends I spent my time in Quito, relaxing with friends and my host family, and watching soccer, which is basically the only recognized sport in Ecuador."
Ashley explains that the time she spent in Ecuador has showed her that she wants to spend more time living abroad.
"Five months will just not be enough for me."
You can read her blog here: http://akissinger92.wordpress.com/
This experience has been so profound to her that Ashley has begun working on an application for the Peace Corps. After graduation in May, Ashley wants to have the opportunity to spend a few years living abroad in a Latin American country. Her focus is on International Social Work and she hopes to attend graduate school to obtain a Master's Degree in Social Work and Public Health.