Write an essay where you tell us about what drives you in your pursuit of your graduate degree.

I found my life calling in an Indian brothel. Until that day, I had a vague sense I wanted to help others with my life. At eighteen years old, I was blessed with the opportunity to spend three months in Calcutta, India. During this time I got to know a local woman who spent her life serving sex workers in the red-light district. One night, she got word a woman was unconscious and needed help. When asked to go along, I was oblivious to the fact my agreement would change the course of my life forever.
Opinions seem to differ on the subject of sex work, its safety, and legitimacy for the workers involved. However, the reality for the workers I met was extreme poverty and malnourishment, with little to no workplace rights. This was not “sex work;” it was sex trafficking. The woman we found alone and unresponsive in the dark brothel room posed no exception. Whispering prayers for healing, we did all we could to revive her. When she became stable, I wondered what kind of societal oppression could lead women to this environment. The experience started a fire in my heart to seek out as much information as I could about sex trafficking. My findings led me to desire to study social work, showed me how to use my degree to better myself and others, and strengthened my commitment to push through financial difficulties to obtain a Master of Social Work degree.
While studying social work in my undergraduate program, I became part of a research project that investigated sex trafficking of minors in the counties surrounding Jackson, MS. Through conducting the research and interviews, I learned that this issue affects all socioeconomic classes, races, ages, and genders. The findings showed ninety victims identified and countless unidentified due to lack of training for professionals. After discovering the prevalence of this in the community, I was struck by the fact that no facilities existed to provide the specific treatment victims require. My dream became pioneering such a facility. To accomplish this, I needed further training and education, which led me to the University of Alabama.
By taking my degree to the graduate level, I will be able to use it to help both survivors of sex trafficking and myself. Attaining my Master of Social Work degree will allow me to gain the credentials of Licensed Master Social Worker. After this, I will work under the tutelage of a seasoned professional in the field to acquire the title Licensed Clinical Social Worker. As a result, I would work toward the experience and credentials needed to open a facility for children affected by sex trafficking.
Although I desire for this facility to operate in a non-profit capacity, I also look forward to the opportunity to use it to support my family. As a single mother, my goal is to educate myself to get ahead without putting my family into insurmountable debt. Through furthering myself in this endeavor I hope to be able to provide for my two sons to have what they need in life. For this reason I am reaching out to as many scholarship opportunities as possible. I pray others will see the victims I am passionate about helping as well as the family they can support behind it.
Humbly, I look forward to embarking on the journey of completing my Master of Social Work. Knowing I am journeying towards my dreams for myself, my family, and those I plan to serve remains an immense motivation to see the degree through. The passion that formed in the Indian brothel has only become stronger over time. I desire to use my talents to help those suffering under the oppression of sex trafficking. With the help of the Mometrix scholarship, I will do so.

Rebekah from Mississippi
University of Alabama