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Student Interviews - Barrington Atkins

Barrinton Atkins
How did you become interested/what made you attend the Howard University School of Social Work?
I believe representation is important. I wanted to go to Howard because I knew it would give me the necessary skills to succeed as a Black therapist. Our community is plagued by a lot of mental health issues, but few therapists have the cultural competency to help Black clients. Using the Black Perspective, I learned culture is a powerful tool for change, not a burden. As a Black male, I believe I have a moral obligation to help my community; we often see negative images of Black males, and I wanted to combat this notion. We rarely see Black men as nurturing, but I wanted to change that.
What was your most memorable experience?
While in the program, I had the privilege of experiencing a myriad of opportunities including a service learning trip to Cape Town, South Africa. However, of all my experiences, my first semester is by far the most memorable. I struggled academically. I constantly questioned my decision; did I enter the program at the right time? Was D.C. the appropriate location? Was Howard the program for me? I felt like I was at the right place, but at the wrong time. In retrospect, I recognize this was due to my mindset; you get out what you put in. At my most stressful moments, I remembered why I decided to enter this field; as advocates, sometimes we are forced to bear a heavier burden than others, but pressure is a privilege. 
What are your plans for the future/how do you plan to use your knowledge gained at HUSSW?
After my supervision hours are complete, I plan to become a LICSW and open a private practice. I want to revolutionize how we conceptualize therapy, altering the appearance of the office, utilizing unorthodox locations, and using technology to benefit clients. Also, I want to create a homeless shelter catering to LGBTQ youth. I want the shelter to be a safe haven where children can have access to wrap around services. This holistic approach is essential to ensure one of our most vulnerable populations is having their physical, mental and emotional needs met.

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