Making a change

Social Service Worker graduate, Tara King ’20 started at Mohawk as a mature student to show her kids change is possible at any age.

By Meaghan Drury ’12

In 2017, Tara King ’20 was examining her life, wanting to make a change for herself and her family.

Tara was interested in pursuing a career in social service work because she knew how it felt to seek that community help and wanted to give back, having previous experiences with depression and being six years sober at the time.

Shortly after applying to Mohawk, Tara connected with Indigenous Education Student Services (IESS) at the college, seeking their assistance with OSAP applications, registration and more. “They helped me with the whole process and explained things to me a lot better than what I could find on my own,” she says.

Tara felt a sense of belonging in the Indigenous Centre at Fennell Campus, a space within the school where she could decompress a little bit. “There were many times I went in there, especially at the beginning, when I was struggling with the school work and really doubting myself a lot,” she explains. “The student coaches were great listeners. They often would let me talk out my worries and frustrations until I talked myself back into continuing on.”

Within the Social Service Worker (SSW) program, Tara found the child and youth courses particularly tough but impactful. Going into the class as a mother of eight, Tara viewed everything through the lens of being a mom. She says, “It took some time to change my mindset and not let everything affect me personally.” The program helped her learn to separate her personal life from her professional life.

The group dynamics course was incredibly profound for Tara. She recalls one of the first tasks in the class was to share something personal or sensitive about themselves. “I remember doing that with a group of girls, and we all were crying by the end. The whole point being that we had to put ourselves in a vulnerable position to create stronger bonds.” Since then, Tara has maintained close relationships with many of her classmates in the group.

After completing her studies at Mohawk, Tara has gone on to continue her education and is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Social Work degree at Wilfried Laurier University.

She also works for the Developmental Services Department at the YWCA. Starting in her position just over a year ago, in the spring of 2020, much of her role has been helping the clients adjust to ongoing changes due to the pandemic. “We’ve had to adapt our programs and services for our clients. Getting more creative.”

When she started down this path a few years ago, she never imagined she would be where she is today. “I wanted to show my kids that no matter what path you go on in life, you can always make a change to go in a different direction,” says Tara.

Her advice to anyone else in a similar situation is, “Do not doubt yourself, just go for it. It has been the best decision I have ever made.” She goes on to explain, “I dropped out [of school] when I was younger, and then I had children, so I thought I wasn’t capable. Now I’m in university and getting good grades. I think self-doubt stops a lot of people, and anyone wanting to further their education should be mindful about how much that self-doubt affects them.”