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Alyson Becker

1. beckerWhat activities were you involved in while at UMBC?

During my time at UMBC, I was a Welcome Week Leader (i.e., “Woolie”) each August, an English Conversation Partner for the English Language Institute on campus, a member of the INDS Council of Majors, and in my senior year I served as one of two student representatives on the Interdisciplinary Studies Committee, which reviewed and passed student degree proposals. I was also a member of the Honors College.

  1. What are you doing since you graduated?

Immediately after graduation, I traveled to South Korea with the Teach and Learn in Korea (TaLK) program and taught afterschool English classes in a rural village for one year. After returning from abroad, I entered a year of AmeriCorps service with the Metro DC Reading Corps and acted as a literacy tutor for low-income and at-risk Pre-K students in Alexandria, VA. Starting this past fall, I returned to school at the University of Maryland School of Social Work in downtown Baltimore with the goal of receiving my Masters of Social Work (MSW) in 2016.

  1. What were some highlights of your time in the Humanities Scholars Program (HSP)?

The biggest highlight of my time in the HSP was the study abroad “requirement” (which I had been excited about since my acceptance to the program my senior year of high school!). I traveled to Osaka, Japan, and it was one of the best experiences of my life so far. Some other highlights of my time in the HSP were the friends I made (I lived on the hum floor all four years), the many trips to see shows and performances in both Baltimore and DC, and the opportunities to attend dinners with forum speakers prior to attending Humanities forum events.

  1. How did the HSP shape you professionally? What skills, knowledge and experiences have you brought to your professional/academic life?

During my time in the HSP, I learned how to be critical of what I read or watched, no matter the esteem attached to the author or presenter, so that I could draw and articulate my own conclusions about the subject. I learned how to express myself effectively and create well-informed arguments that made logical sense. These skills have benefited me well both academically and professionally, especially now that I am back in graduate school. I also learned through our Humanities seminars and forums to acknowledge and respect the more human side of things, that underneath each great philosopher or world-shaker exists a person with his or her own set of challenges and bank of mistakes. This perspective has really underlined my drive to pursue social work. Studying abroad also showed me that no matter how confusing, strange, frightening, overwhelming, insert-similar-adjective-here something is, that it can be overcome! I got through my first few days in Japan without internet to contact family and friends and without anyone I knew on that side of the world, so everything seems tame in comparison now!

  1. How would you define the HSP in five words?

An opportunity for personal growth.

  1. What do you have planned for the future? I plan to graduate with my MSW next year, and I’ve already agreed to work in Maryland’s public child welfare sector for at least one year post-graduation. After that, I’d like to continue working with children, perhaps here or abroad, and be a supporter for family strength and child well-being. I am also passionate about the human rights violations in North Korea and with North Koreans in China, so I plan to become involved in advocacy efforts for this issue as well.