Karina Montoya didn’t always feel drawn to a career in social work.
“I used to work as an optician. At that time, I thought that’s what I wanted to strive for,” she recalled.
But, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, she experienced a significant shift in her career, one that eventually led her to Kuyper College.
“Now, I’m an outreach worker for Kent County Community Action, doing case management for seniors,” she said. “It’s actually this job that made me want to go back to school.”
In her current role, Montoya is responsible for helping connect seniors with community resources, such as housing assistance. As a Spanish speaker, she also provides interpretation services.
“So much of my job is social work already. It didn’t take me long to realize that’s what I wanted to do long term,” she said.
In order to expand her options within the social work field, she knew she would need a college degree. However, as a working professional with three children, she worried about adding schoolwork into the mix of an already busy life.
Montoya smiled as she recalled her decision to enroll at Kuyper.
“I chose Kuyper because my sister earned her social work degree here, even though she was a mom working full-time. Seeing her being able to make it work with similar life circumstances gave me the courage to do it myself,” she said.
And she is grateful for the Kuyper staff who helped make the transition a smooth, pleasant one.
“Anne in admissions was so helpful. Finding classes that fit into my schedule was so difficult, and I felt like giving up so many times. But she never gave up on me, and she found a way to make it work. I really appreciated that,” she said.
Though she is only in her first semester of her education, Montoya has already given some thought to how she hopes to use her degree.
“My goal is to work within the criminal justice system, serving the mental health needs of our youth. I’d like to touch the surface of every field, but I’m only one person,” she said with a laugh.