Kara Whittaker (Fox), AB '12, AM '13, always wanted to work with people and to be in a helping profession.
“I wanted a career where I felt I was really living out my Christian faith. I see a lot of overlap between the values of my faith and the values of the social work profession,” Fox explains. “Also, social work is such a versatile field – serving a variety of populations in a variety of settings. As I thought about the different careers I wanted to pursue, a social work degree just seemed to fit everything.”
Fox was an undergraduate religious studies major at the University of Chicago. During her time in college, she worked as a nanny and interned at children's hospital working with children with special needs.
“Many of the children I was working with had access to a lot of different resources,” Fox notes. “But there are certainly a lot of children with those same issues who don’t have that access. That really piqued my interest in doing work in early childhood intervention and working with children with disabilities.”
Fox chose the BA/MA program not only because it allowed her to begin her graduate studies early, but also because she was drawn to the SSA’s Family Support Program and its emphasis on partnering with families to support child development. Further, as a clinical student, she appreciated the core curriculum that offered her a strong understanding of policy intervention.
“I feel most in my element when I’m working directly with children and I think a strong clinical education will equip me for that kind of work in the future,” Fox says. As a first year student, she interned with the West Gary Lighthouse College Preparatory Academy in Gary, Indiana where she did individual counseling sessions with students and held a weekly art-based therapy group. She worked in the early childhood and afterschool elementary programs at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club for her second-year placement.
“I really enjoyed that our professors continually challenge us to bring our field experiences to the classroom.” Fox notes “They often ask students to share examples from the field or to think about what we’re learning in the context of our field work. In my classes and in my placement I’m often asked to reflect on how a particular concept or theory from class might relate to a field experience.”
Fox received her AB in June 2012, having combined her two passions in her senior thesis on the religious roots of the Orphan Trains, the social experiment that transported homeless and orphaned children from industrial cities on the East coast to homes across the country. “Today’s American foster care system finds its roots in the 19th century religious liberalism that helped to create the trains.”
This June, Fox received her AM and wants to pursue her LSW license with plans to begin working in infant mental health and early childhood intervention with children with disabilities.