Kara Sellix '13

profile  Kara Sellix's work after graduate exemplifies the versatility of a liberal arts education.
  A History major during her time at Marist, she has drawn upon a variety of academic
  and family experiences in order to establish and lead a non-profit organization aimed at
  helping the siblings of individuals with disabilities.

  Q: What kind of work do you do now?
 
  I am currently finishing my Master of Social Work (MSW) Degree at Rutgers University
  and work with a variety of client populations including individuals with intellectual and
  developmental disabilities, people with chronic mental illness, as well as the elderly.
  I also recently founded a grassroots non-profit in New Jersey for siblings of individuals
  with disabilities called SIBS NJ. As a sibling to a young woman with developmental
  disabilities I wanted to create a safe space for siblings to meet and discuss their
relationship with their sib with disabilities, as well as how it impacts their lives. Many people who work in the service sector
for people with disabilities in schools or other agencies do not realize the significance of the sibling relationship, and many
siblings crave the ability to connect with other sibs about their unique experiences. Since siblings ultimately have the longest
lasting relationship with one another, they are more likely to be care givers or support systems whose knowledge of the systems
that impact people with disabilities is significant. I hope it will grow and help many siblings in our state to feel more comfortable navigating a confusing system as well as their place in their own families and lives.

Q: Which aspects of your Marist experience have proven most useful in your professional life?

Having gone to Marist I feel the close attention the professors could provide as well as the camaraderie of the student body
itself helped provide me with the support I needed to continue to navigate my own path and pursue my dream of starting an
organization like SIBS NJ. As a history major, I only know that I loved various periods of time, the events that unfolded, and
the stories of people's lives. Yet, I did not know how this love of the past would translate into my future career goals. Though
I considered teaching and law school, my history degree has been a tremendous asset in my work as an "almost social
worker". Not only am I able to relate more to my elderly clients whose memories are fading aside from their recollections
of wars or presidencies, but I am also more culturally competent and aware of how the past impacts and shapes people's
futures on an individual level, familial level, and societal level. Whether I was working with a veteran experiencing PTSD
or a woman with dementia who believed it was 1939 and she had no money, my ability to meet my clients where they
are mentally is the result, in part, of understanding the context of their thoughts. 

Q: What advice would you give to students just starting out on their college careers?

The advice I can give to incoming SLA students is do not believe that your degree is less valuable because it is not geared
towards a specific career path. The beauty of a liberal arts degree is that it teaches you how to write well, articulate yourself,
and think critically. These skills lend themselves well to a myriad of disciplines and careers as well as entrance into graduate
programs that can further your focus. While I did not realize I wanted to pursue a social work career until my senior year at
Marist, I have no regrets about having pursued my bachelor's degree in History. It provided me with the foundation I needed
to be as successful as I have been in graduate school, my field work and in my own entrepreneurial endeavors. The other
advice I can give is to intern as much as you can and experience new things - this is the surest way to find out what you
like and what you don't like (which is arguably more important). 

 

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