Interview with Renee Black
GC Graduation Year
Why or how did you choose your field? Were there specific experiences that influenced you?
When I first came to Goshen College I chose the field of Social Work. During the time I was studying for that degree, I discovered that Goshen was not accredited for Social Work so I changed my degree to Elementary Education. I have always loved little children and was the 2nd oldest of 7 children. After graduation I realized that while I liked teaching there weren’t many jobs available. I wasn’t sure about just relocating anywhere so I took a job as a Social Worker with Elkhart County. I worked for 11 years as a social worker with 4 of them being on an island in Alaska. It was in Alaska that I wanted to go back to school and become a guidance counselor working with elementary aged children. I discovered that was my true passion.
What’s exciting about your job or this field?
The exciting part of my job is just the diversity of the people I work with and the things that can happen during a day’s time. It is never boring. There are many more things I could do in a day’s time than I have time to do. You can never predict children.
What has been a challenge in your career journey?
The challenge in my career journey is keeping up with current education. You need to always keep learning. While that is a challenge it is what keeps my brain going and gives me lots of energy. The other challenge is helping legislatures and the powers that be realize the importance of Elementary School Counselors. Our world is getting so stressful yet the first thing they want to cut is the support.
Looking back, would you do anything differently?
As you look at my career pathway, you might say, why didn’t she just continue on with the social work degree. I couldn’t have had a more perfect pathway for what I do. Having the Elementary Education degree along with the social work experience has been perfect for what I do. I am involved in planning for the total child and understand both the educational difficulties as well as the emotional difficulties. I wouldn’t do anything differently.
How did your liberal arts education assist you in your journey? Are there specific examples you can offer?
I would say my liberal arts education assisted me in just growing up and learning about myself and my world. I grew up very protected. I was able to learn how to make my own decisions and maintain an open mind.
Did anyone offer you some memorable advice that you’d like to pass on? Or…what advice would you give to a young person just starting out?
Going from a small high school, being very protected, and getting terrible grades my first 2 years, my mom advised me to not quit. I would advise current students to figure out what is going wrong for them and keep on going. My master’s degree went much easier for me as I understood me better.