After two years of success, the Generation Gap program returns this fall, driven by the same objectives: to increase the number of visible minority students in the field of social work by providing meaningful conversations and a supportive environment.
Carole Sandy, a clinical counsellor and graduate of the School of Social Work at McGill University, is one of the facilitators of the program; she says the field of social work, like many other health-care professions, flourishes when diversity and inclusion is encouraged.
The Generation Gap program works with visible minority students who are in the process of completing or have completed their DEC and mature applicants interested in pursuing an undergraduate degree in social work.
Although it does not guarantee acceptance into McGill University’s Social Work program, Generation Gap provides participants with the necessary tools to present a strong application that will meet the academic and strong life skills required to flourish in the field.
The CONTACT spoke to Sandy recently and learned more about the program and its renewed sense of urgency in this period of heightened social justice awareness.
Here’s part of that conversation…
CC: Congrats on the renewal of your project. What is the Generation Gap Program?
Carole Sandy: The Generation Gap program provides support to visible minority applicants that are interested in pursuing postsecondary education in the field of social work. This includes creating an atmosphere that empowers them to find their purpose, achieve their dreams and make a difference in the lives of others.
CC: Why is this such an important program at this time given our political climate?
Carole Sandy: Racism is wrong in any form but, what people have come to understand over the last four months or so is that systemic racism -which are policies, ideologies that produce racial and ethnic inequalities need to be addressed. This program does not provide all the answers but we continue to focus on how Black people and people of colour who are interested in this field can
take the steps to make that a reality.
CC: When you started this program, you understood how important diversity would be in the marketplace, once again you are stressing that point with this program tell us more about that:
Carole Sandy: Today, people no longer want lip service when discussing diversity and inclusion they expect organizations to step up and include diverse voices and experiences in the work culture.
At the start of this program in 2016, I knew how important it was and continues to be, that organizations make it safer for people of all backgrounds to feel accepted in their work environment. The statistics validate this clearly, diversity within the workplace leads to stronger organizations, greater insight, and better problem solving. The Generational Gap Project aims to help students explore, strengthen, and broaden their understanding of their life experiences. (Hunt, Layton&Prince, 2015)
CC: How is your program unique and what will people learn from participating?
Carole Sandy: For those who are ready to do the work, I believe that they will learn to understand themselves better and accept the strengths and challenges they bring while creating a plan to support next steps. This program includes one-on one coaching and workshop sessions.
The workshop sessions cover topic areas such as application preparation, self-awareness, post-secondary stress, and an academic check-up. These interactivesessions provide thought provoking discussions that will introduce the applicant to the industry, which include a day in life of a social worker (guest speaker), an industry outlook, the struggles of being a Black clinician along with targeted occupation information.
CC: Lastly, what is your hope for this program?
Carole Sandy: There are many anti-black sentiments that are both overt and covert in our society and my hope is that The Generation Gap program encourages applicants to explore their own personal narratives about education, their values, assumptions and concerns about the field of social work and the importance of seeking available resources to support their transition into full-time studies. I believe that when we are able to reflect upon how we see ourselves and then take some action we bridge the gap between helpful selftalk and negative stigmatization. I believe we all need to be empowered with these techniques moving forward so that we can honestly evaluate
CC: How can people learn more about this program?
Carole Sandy: The Generation Gap is a wonderful opportunity for individuals to actively interact with the post-secondary environment (virtually) and connect with the staff and professors in a formal setting. We offer applicants the opportunity to explore their areas of interest by identifying their core strengths, beliefs and gifts.
To find our more about the upcoming information session on October 28th at 7pm EST they can contact Shimmon at Shimmon.hutchinson@mail.
mcgill.ca. Following the information session individuals
can decide if they want to pursue the program.