Focused on social work and Spanish at Carthage, Sienna Hirsch has been able to extensively explore both fields through internships in the area, multiple J-Term study tours abroad, and her strong presence within the Carthage community.
Throughout her travels, made possible by Carthage’s many study abroad options, Sienna has visited Spain and Guatemala during J-Term and has plans to attend a Costa Rica and Panama tour in 2020. She also spent one semester in the Dominican Republic where she was able to exponentially improve her Spanish. The places, people, and cultures she has experienced on these trips have created some of her favorite Carthage memories thus far.
On-campus, Sienna is involved in many of Carthage’s student-run clubs and organizations and has interned at a variety of locations in the field of social work in the surrounding area.
After graduation, Sienna hopes to continue studying social work abroad, possibly in Mexico. She encourages other social work majors to get involved in the Department and invites them to reach out to her for advice.
“In the Social Work Department, everyone has the common goal of seeking social change and justice. We may have different areas of interest, but when you look at the big picture, you can see that what we really care about is the wellbeing of others.”
“As of right now, my long term dream is to live in Mexico and do creative arts therapy with kids in foster care. After I graduate, I would like to go to a Bible Institute in Mexico. It is called Palabra de Vida (Word of Life) and it is located in Bernal, Queretaro. Eventually, I would like to get licensed in creative arts therapy.”
“Dani Geary is one of my favorite professors and she was a big influence on me changing my major to social work (I actually came into Carthage as an environmental science major). One day I went to her office to talk about the social work major and this is how our dialogue went:
Prof. Geary: ‘Now, there are two questions I ask people when they are considering social work. One, are you the person your friends usually come to for advice?’
Prof. Geary: ‘Okay, and do you find that random people come up to you and tell you very personal things about their lives?’
Prof. Geary: ‘Okay, then you’re a social worker.’”
“The rest is history.”
“I have had two favorite classes as far as on-campus courses go. One of them was the J-Term course From Gatsby to L.A. Cool. It was a literature and ballroom dance course taught by Michael Mattek. I love dancing, so this was a great way to combine it into a classroom setting. We learned the dances relative to the time periods of the books we read.”
“My other favorite course was Spanish 3010 with Matt Borden. I loved that our homework was watching a telenovela. I also saw my Spanish improve immensely from that course. Not only that, but my confidence in speaking grew. Borden’s teaching style really prepared me for the Spanish competency exam.”
“Economics… I can never wrap my head around it.”
“I have had field placements within my social work courses. For Human Behavior in the Social Environment, we worked at the Shalom Center for seven weeks. I actually was able to do my Social Work Practice I while I was abroad. I worked at a public school in the Dominican Republic. Last semester for Social Work Practice II, I was with the New Horizon Center, a child-placing agency in Milwaukee. This year I will be interning at Healthcare Network in Racine.”
Opportunities at Carthage
“During my freshman year at Carthage, I was involved with both the fall and spring dance shows. I have had lots of opportunities to study abroad with Carthage. I have been on both Guatemala and Spain Spanish language immersion study tours. I also studied abroad for a semester in the Dominican Republic. This next J-Term I am planning on going to Costa Rica and Panama for the course ‘Open the Door: A Collision Course in Creativity.’”
“Yes, I receive the Springfield Scholarship every year and I also received the Valentine-Joy Scholarship for one year. These scholarships are very important to me and my family because we are not financially able to pay for all the expenses at Carthage. Receiving this aid has not only significantly helped relieve a financial burden, but also has made it possible for me to study at a college where my aspirations are becoming a reality.”
“I am a part of InterVaristy. It is one of the campus’ Christian outreach organizations. Through InterVarsity, I have met some of my good friends and mentors. IV also provides lots of opportunities for conferences. The moments at those conferences have been life-changing and definitely one of the greatest things I am taking away from my college experience. I am also a part of Alpha Mu Gamma, the foreign language honor society, as well as Phi Alpha, the social work honor society. I also try my best to attend Rock Climbing Club when I don’t have a class that interferes with the club time.”
Favorite moments at Carthage
“Any of the experiences I have had on study tours abroad or during the InterVarsity conferences are definitely unforgettable. Some of the best times I have had are with my best friend Ryen Cunningham. We actually weren’t together all of last year because I was abroad in the fall, we went on separate J-Term tours, and then she studied abroad in the spring. I didn’t realize how much time we spent together until I had to do regular college life without her.”
Biggest surprise so far?
“The cold wind and snow off the lake shock me every winter…”
What would your 8-year-old self think of you now?
“I think my 8-year-old self would be totally shocked and in disbelief. For starters, I never wanted to study abroad while I was growing up. I always said I would stay home and do online school. Second, I never wanted to learn Spanish. When I was younger, I was obsessed with Paris and wanted to learn French. I also used to think I was horrible with kids. Now, I want to spend my life serving them. There have been so many events in my life that have shaped and changed me. Looking back at the last three years, I am amazed. God has been good, and I am excited to see what he has for me ahead.”
Advice for other students considering your major
“Just a heads up for your last couple years in the major, having a car is actually really key. You need transportation to get to your field placements. I didn’t get a car until my senior year. If you don’t have a car but want to do social work, I’d be happy to tell you how I did it.”