Esmeralda Bravo-Ramos, Youth Education Coordinator, Nebraska Children's Home Society
Hometown: Cozad, Neb.
Where did you complete your education and where are you currently studying/working?
I completed my undergraduate studies at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. My undergrad degree is in social work with a minor in ethnic studies. I completed my practicum at Omaha's One World Community Health Centers. I became immediately employed post-graduation at Nebraska Children's Home Society working with pregnant and parenting teens; I have been with them for over 4 years. They have supported and encouraged my career and academic aspirations fully. I currently attend the University of Nebraska at Omaha and will graduate this August 2017 with a Master of Social Work and a Master of Public Administration.
How did you become interested in social work?
I became interested in social work after watching a Van Damme movie (Wake of Death, 2004) where his wife was a social worker for INS. Interestingly enough, it was the career my high school counselor suggested for me as well, so I felt it was meant to be. Not to mention, my own personal background as a first generation Mexican American, I saw the struggles of my own family, and I wanted to create a ripple effect to attempt to make life easier for those in need.
How have you worked with BHECN and the Ambassador Program?
I have been involved with BHECN since 2015 when I was asked to facilitate tabletop discussions and be a part of panel discussions as the social work representative for their annual conferences. Every year since then I look forward to helping with the conference in Omaha and Kearney, NE in any way. I was also sponsored to attend the very first Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Awareness Conference in White Clay, which was an eye-opening and learning experience for me.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Facilitating groups not only helps me learn more about myself, but I love seeing change in the participants. I facilitate groups for grandparents raising their grandchildren and parent-child attachment groups. I enjoy working with children and families, so knowing this child will go home to a positive environment is the most fulfilling thing about my job.
What are your career aspirations?
I hope to gain experience in individual therapy work, as most of my experience is facilitating group work. My career aspiration is to be in a role where I can create the biggest change; I am a macro thinker. I would like to work in an administrative role in the social work field where you can see things happening from the top and connect it down to the one-on-one work.
I have considered running for office; I believe that would be a catalyst to creating change in my community.
What advice would you give to a high school or college student interested in entering this career?
Be open to volunteering and working in social work areas you might not have thought you would enjoy. Always have a support person in the social work arena with more experience than you; you will find they will help guide you and support you during difficult times in this field of work.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
In my free time, I spend time with my 11-month-old daughter and my fiancé. I love reading about history, new research, and fiction as well. Nature is also my go-to in my spare time and weekends.
BHECN’s Ambassador Program creates a pipeline of Nebraska students interested in behavioral health beginning as early as their high school years. It follows students from high school and college, through professional school and on to careers in behavioral health.