Mission Accomplished

Marketing and Communications

By Julie Carle

Growing up in the small town of Holgate, Ohio, Amanda Medina was one of 33 students to graduate from her high school. At the time, her GPA was low and her motivation was lacking, yet, she knew in her heart that a college degree was necessary if she wanted to help children.

However, she didn't believe she could get into college or succeed.

Her walk across the platform at commencement on Saturday (Aug. 10) is a testament to her effort, BGSU's support and a major that was meaningful to her.

Medina was admitted to BGSU's University Program for Academic Success (UPAS), the program for students whose high school academics were inconsistent. Designed to help students successfully transition to the University environment, UPAS provides academic support through group and individual tutoring, extensive academic advising and guidance with course selection.

As a member of this group Medina thrived. Her advisor at the time, Tom Gorman, saw her potential and worked with her to set academic goals that would eventually lead toward a career in social work. As the youngest of seven children, she was surrounded by nieces and nephews at an early age, frequently serving as a babysitter and caregiver for the children.

"In high school I constantly struggled and thought that I would never be successful. I was afraid of failure," she recalled. "Sometimes people need to feel like there is someone who believes in them and who says they are smart and can do great things if they put the effort into it.

"Mr. Gorman provided me with that for the first time, and I felt like I could truly make something out of myself," Medina continued.

"She just needed someone to believe in her, and the social work program brought out something special in her"And she never looked back. From that instant, she pushed herself as hard as she could, studying countless hours for every exam, putting all of her effort into her grades.

Her hard work paid off. She earned a 3.2 GPA the first semester and maintained a 3.0 and above every semester. Making the dean's list was a goal she achieved, yet she beams with pride over the reality of wearing the identifiable gold honor cords as a cum laude graduate.

Another important element to her success has been the social work faculty in the College of Health and Human Services. They have supported her and allowed her to get involved with research and presentations. She presented two research projects at the National Association of Social Workers conference, and the abstract and paper from research she did with Dr. HeeSoon Lee about caregiver stress and elder abuse was accepted at the Ohio Association of Gerontology and Education.

She also has benefited from many real-world experiences as a volunteer and intern at several social service agencies. She created a comprehensive sex trafficking resource manual for victims of sex trafficking for a local agency, assisted with writing and successfully receiving grants for a child and family advocacy center, and assisted with a community health needs assessment.

Medina is ready for the next leg of her journey - pursuing a master's degree in social work. After applying to and being accepted at six master's programs in large cities in Ohio, New York and Illinois, she has decided to attend the University of Illinois at Chicago. As part of her assistantship there, she will be conducting record reviews and investigations of serious and fatal child abuse and neglect incidents for the Office of the Inspector General.

Her goal is to stay in an urban setting and work in foster care or at an adoption agency "to ensure children's safety and well-being in their homes."

One of her favorite quotes sums it up for Medina: "I want to inspire people. I want someone to look at me and say, 'Because of you, I didn't give up.'" Just like BGSU did for her.

Gorman is pleased with Medina's success and is almost fatherly proud that she has achieved so much. "She had something special to offer that she didn't recognize. She just needed someone to believe in her, and the social work program brought out something special in her," he said.

"The mission of our institution is to provide access to individuals to help them develop to their full potential. Amanda is a perfect example that the mission was accomplished."

(Posted August 5, 2013 )