SCHOOL OF SOCIAL WORK
Hometown: Kufranja, Jordan
Major: Master of Social Work
Expected date of graduation: 2022
Tamara Alshoweat has been a helper her entire life. When she learned being a social worker meant helping people for your job, she quickly decided to pursue a Master’s of Social Work at Loyola.
Tamara is the president of the Social Workers of Color Alliance and serves as the co-chair of the committee for diversity, equity, and inclusion for the School of Social Work.
Here, Tamara shares what motivated her to become a social worker and what lessons she has learned during her time at Loyola.
What is your major and why did you choose it?
I'm getting my master’s in social work, and my specialization is in mental health with a sub-specialization in migration. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always been a giver and a helper. I was born in Jordan. When we used to go to school, there was this window where we used to go buy snacks. My dad lived in America, so he always used to send us money, send us clothes, send us everything. Not that we were privileged, but we definitely had more than everybody else. So I always liked to give other kids my food; I was a kid too, but I always liked to give them my food. My family would say, “What is wrong with you?” I was a kid who liked to help people.
I realized social work is basically that. We’re helping people, but in a professional way. And I thought, “What's a better way to live life?” It feels so good to help people. And it feels really good to have a purpose in life.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from your time at Loyola?
There aren’t many people who look like me at Loyola. When I first started the program, even though it was all online, it was still really hard. I look a certain way. I speak different languages. I felt like I didn’t fit in. But then I thought, “Maybe not fitting in is a good thing.” Loyola can learn a lot from me, and I can learn a lot from other people. I feel like me coming to Loyola was a lesson. My Loyola experience is teaching me what I will encounter after I graduate. There might be people who don’t like me. There might be people who don’t understand where I’m from or why have a scarf on my head or why I talk a certain way. Everyone always tells me, “Dim your fire a little bit.” And I say, “No.”
Even though I have had struggles, I have found a community at Loyola. I became the president of the Social Workers of Color Alliance (SWOCA) and started talking to my classmates of color and letting them know, “There is this space for you.” All I really wanted was a space for people who look like me and for students of color. I thought that was really important to have.