Making an Impact
Having a passion for service, master of social work student Junger Herazo-Vargas is choosing more than a career or salary. He’s choosing to make an impact on the day-to-day lives of the youth he’ll encounter some day.
Social workers can empower communities by encouraging individuals to take an active role in shaping social services, providing education and enabling economic independence long-term. An individual who can attest to these things is Herazo-Vargas. The support he received from social workers during his adolescent years had a ripple effect.
“I want to give teenagers the same kind of help that was given to me,” said Herazo-Vargas. “There were social workers who impacted my life when I was growing up and trying to learn English. As a bilingual speaker, I believe that I can have a positive impact on the Hispanic community. I want to give the proper guidance to learn English and understand the American culture, which I experienced. I want to reach out to as many people as possible.”
Originally from Panama, Herazo-Vargas moved to the United States at the age of eight and grasped the English language by the time he was 14 years old. The efforts of social workers during that phase of his life were both inspiring and motivating, according to Herazo-Vargas.
Many people may not understand how social work is different from other professions. Social workers deal with the external factors that impact a person's situation and outlook. At the same time, social workers attempt to create opportunities for assessment and intervention, to help clients and communities cope effectively with their reality and change that reality when necessary. Social workers help clients deal not only with how they feel about a situation, but also with what they can do about it.
Someone who understands Herazo-Vargas better than anyone is Marywood University’s Interim Head Men's Soccer Coach, Hunter Sowersby. Best friends and roommates, the two share a seven-year friendship that dates back to Herazo-Vargas’ freshman year at Wells College in Aurora, N.Y. In fact, it was Sowersby who suggested that Herazo-Vargas look at Marywood University as a possible destination to pursue an MSW program.
“Junger is one of the very few people I trust most,” said Sowersby. “He has helped me to also see things from his perspective, which has changed my outlook on how blessed I am to come from where I come from. Junger carries a beam of light wherever he goes.”
The friendly bond that began on a soccer field in Aurora continues even stronger today on the field at Marrywood. When Hunter-Vargas isn’t busy with school, internships, or work, he can be found helping his good friend, Coach Sowersby, with the Men’s Soccer Team at the Pacers Athletics Field.
“I’m grateful that Hunter turned me onto Marywood,” said Hunter-Vargas. “I’m also grateful for the education and experience I’ve gained at Marywood. I just feel blessed.”
Social workers have an immense impact on communities and the people who live in them. The profession has shifted over the last few years and continues to evolve to match the rapid changes of the 21st century.
The ripple effect Herazo-Vargas experienced from the positive actions of social work pioneers before him left an everlasting impact. Now, as an adult, having an opportunity to provide others with the same services is something that just feels natural to him.