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Speaking Up

Caroline  Albert

Class of 2021 • Fairfax, Virginia

Growing up Caroline Albert ‘21 felt the impacts of watching family members cope with mental illness. She quickly realized she wanted to help those living with mental illness; making a psychology major an easy choice. Having never taken a psychology course before, Caroline thoroughly researched the programs of her potential colleges, when Washington College stood out to her. 

“The three concentration tracks at WC drew me in, I want to go into social work or therapy after graduation, so a concentration in clinical counseling really set the psychology program apart. I love all the hands-on opportunities available; even if you aren't in a lab class you have the opportunity to engage with the material.”

As a psychology major with minors in Hispanic Studies and Public Health, Caroline says she is gaining a new perspective on the world and learning the best practices for aiding others. She found the perfect opportunity to utilize her new skills beyond WC as an inclusion director at Rec-PAC (Pretty Awesome Children) through Fairfax County Park Authority. 

“I worked with kids with various disabilities who needed a campsite that had more staff to help accommodate varying needs. The camp is for lower income families, so I saw kids from all different backgrounds. I was speaking Spanish every day communicating with parents and kids. It was a really rewarding experience being able to see how much of a difference you can make in kids lives just by being a good person and role model; it really rubs off on them.”

“There was one day where I had to call 911 and deal with the emergency situation. Afterwards, I had to carry on with the day and show the kids how its okay to be nervous, but then show how to recover from that as well. That day has given me the confidence to know that I can go into social work handling serious situations and do well.”  

Caroline’s journey learning Spanish began in high school, but grew exponentially after her freshman year at WC; as someone who wants to work with specialized populations in her future, she finds that speaking multiple languages will go a long way. 

“The professors here have helped me to see that speaking Spanish is something I can do and that it is truly helpful speaking another language, even if it is only just enough to get by in a conversation with someone. Helping specialized populations that aren’t always able to access all the assistance they could benefit from, especially when language is a barrier, is really important to me.”

Caroline found her home away from home in the Equestrian Team and working as a George’s General for Admissions, where she welcomes prospective students to campus. 

“WC has helped me find myself and grow as an individual. Each of the different organizations I’ve been exposed to help me feel like I've come out of my shell; I am much more confident in myself and how I present myself to others.”

Caroline finds that her experience as a George’s General is providing a strong repertoire of communication skills that will be invaluable moving forward in her career. 

“I love being a George’s General. It’s definitely helped increase my self confidence and knowledge of how to speak with people; particularly being able to meet with people from so many different backgrounds and learning how to approach a student versus a whole family. I’m confident articulating about WC and showing off a school that I’m very happy to be going to, and in turn using that to help others as they decide whether or not to come here,” she says. “As someone who wants to go into social work or counseling, being a George’s General is great practice for me to develop not only being comfortable with talking, but also listening and learning where someone comes from and how best to relate to them.” 

Through her public health minor Caroline feels she is able to tie together all of her studies.

“I didn’t know that the public health minor existed until Dr. Jim Windelborn, my first year advisor, encouraged me to try it. I think the field of public health incompasses so much of psychology, as well as the Spansih speaking population; there's so much overlap that it culminates all my interests.”

Caroline is looking forward to using the skills she’s developed at Washington College to make a difference in the lives of others through social work or counseling. 

“I think that what I want to do with my life came from a personal spot of having family members struggle with mental health. I want to be able to use my gifts of being able to relate to others, in addition to my formal education of these subjects to really help others. It comes from a place of wanting to help others being affected by mental health and I don’t think it is talked about enough.” 

Caroline's Four Year Plan

Year 1

Favorite ClassFYS: A Time & Place For Madness with Prof. Jim Windelborn

“The class was more biology based, but definitely focused on mental health. I was allowed to do a research paper and presentation on any mental illness and population I wanted, while I researching I discovered I really want to work with kids and adolescents with mental health issues.” 

Year 2

Favorite ClassMicrobiology with Associate Professor of Biology, Kathleen Verville

“Microbiology changed my perception of public health, I was learning about bacteria and going into lab where the class would create a plate strep or e coli and learn about how bacteria can cause harm. Then in intro to public health I learned about people's real experiences with those diseases and it really came full circle.” 

Year 3

Learn By DoingREC-PAC (Pretty Awesome Children) inclusion director

“I worked with kids with various disabilities that needed a campsite that had more staff to help accommodate varying needs. It was a really rewarding experience being able to see how much of a difference you can make in kids lives just by being a good person and role model; it really rubs off on them."

Year 4

Looking Forward ToGraduate School 

“I want to pursue a masters in social work. I love seeing how much a social worker can do, and how flexible the options are in that career; if I want to work in a school, juvenile center, hospital, or in policy I can and I think that will be really helpful for me. I know social work will allow me to experiment until I find the experience I want.”