Chayanna Acevedo landed in the halls of UNH Durham as a nursing major, but observation hours at a local hospital caused her to reconsider. “I wanted to help people for the long term and be more closely involved to address the root issues not just provide the short term fixes,” she contemplated. It was during her time at the hospital that one professional group stuck out-- the social workers. She noticed they were doing exactly what she was after. They were at the hospital with their clients and they would be with their clients after they left, just where she pictured herself! Now a senior, she will graduate in May with her bachelor’s degree in Social Work. This last semester required another internship. She knew she wanted to work with a diverse population but that was the extent of her requirements. Her professor placed her at Lutheran Social Services- Services for New Americans (LSS-SNA) (now Ascentria care Alliance) and Chayanna told us, “I can’t imagine being anywhere else!”
When she began interacting with refugees, one of the most diverse populations she could have asked for, she was struck by the plights they had endured to get to the United States and yet how much more another transition would require of them. Chayanna took on the responsibility of submitting public health referrals before refugees arrived, calling in Medicaid numbers for hospital appointments, bringing families or individuals to health appointments, and sitting in on meetings. Chayanna has been impressed the most by how the refugees she works with have begun to trust her. She recalls the first rehabilitation appointment she brought a family to and how scared they appeared. When she saw the same family a few weeks later, they ran towards her with smiles across their faces to say hi and asked how she was. “It’s amazing the many different aspects of progress you get to witness in these wonderful people,” Chayanna observed.
During this internship she observed social work is not cookie cutter but at SNA she was given the skills and confidence to use her best judgment in everyday occurrences. “You feel you’re in the way at times but the staff love you being right there and want to teach you and give you skills to do the job and take initiative on your own. I liked it so much I extended my internship through the summer!” Chayanna smiled.
We at SNA are so lucky to have had you this spring and are thrilled you will be with us through the summer!