Alumni Spotlight: Jaydee Graham

 The Kent School caught up with one of our alums, Jaydee Graham, to see where she is now and what she has been doing since graduating. Jaydee graduated in May 2015 with her Bachelor of Social Work from the Kent School and went on to graduate in 2016 with her Master of Science in Social work, also from Kent School. She is currently a Family Advocate with the Family Scholar House here in Louisville. Below is her story.  

Kent School: What led you to social work?

JG: My journey led me to the field of social work. My path through life, throughout my teen years into adulthood, led me into many different environments, amongst many different populations, agencies, friend groups, atmospheres, universities and service resources. My struggles and hardships led me to be able to see the world in a completely different light than it appeared to me as a child. When I began my higher education journey, I didn’t make it to many classes due to my lifestyle and environment, but I always managed to stumble into my psychology class…regardless of how late I was up the night previously. I felt fueled by the different opinions, the passion that filled the room, the collaboration of strangers coming together and uniting when discussing injustices and the pain our world and the souls within it endure and are subjected to. There was empathy, compassion, voices being heard and people using their voices. I found it beautiful and welcoming. These future social workers were my people. I felt, in this space, all the dark moments of my life could benefit the lives of others, and in those moments I felt the same energy that I maintained throughout my educational career while pursuing my bachelors and masters in social work, both at the phenomenal Kent School of Social Work at The University of Louisville.


KS: Tell us all about what you are doing now and how the Kent School helped you get there.

JG: I am blessed to have been a graduate of The Family Scholar House program. When I chose to pursue my graduate degree, I was welcomed back into the FSH program. I was able to take a different seat and catch a different view, within the organization, as I was able to become a family advocate intern. This was an adjustment and such a pivotal learning experience. I spent a year seeing how much went into serving people, and I had the opportunity to be engaged in micro, mezzo and macro work within the agency. The opportunities for growth and experience were endless.

When my graduate studies ended, a position opened within the organization. I am now a Family Advocate for the downtown Scholar House Campus. I am honored to be a Family Advocate and serve such powerful, beautiful, courageous and resilient single parent families. I am fortunate enough to assist, advocate, empower and offer resources to them, so that they feel they are the best versions of themselves that they can be. They do all the work - I am able to offer the support, a listening ear and a safe space for healthy communication and the “You got this!” along the way.


KS: Who were your greatest influences while at the Kent School?

JG: The staff at the Kent School welcomed in a scared, fearful, silenced and eager student into their program with grace and in excitement. The instructors, who poured out their gained knowledge, experiences, education and compassion for the field made me love learning. They empowered me, patiently worked with me, and showed such professionalism and empathy. They encouraged our differences, challenged us to think critically and culturally and respected our own personal opinions and interests within the field. They wanted to stir us up, get our brains spinning so that we were able to step outside of our own biases, so that we could serve those we work with in a just, fair, respectful and worthy way.

I built lifelong friendships while being a part of an incredibly talented, empowered, passionate, compassionate and hardworking cohort. We got through our education and all that it entailed together. These brilliant souls gave me hope for the world and those who were advocating, empowering and educating behind closed doors and into the community and who would not waver in their devotion to their clients within many different populations in Kentucky and around the world.


KS: What was your biggest hurdle as a student and what did you proactively do to overcome it?

JG:  I can honestly say I feel I didn’t have a specific “biggest hurdle.” Was school difficult? Absolutely. Did I want to give up at times? Absolutely. Did I sleep much? Absolutely not. Did life have its rocky and turbulent moments during these years? Absolutely - some of the most difficult. Did I turn in some assignments late? Absolutely. Did I get some bad grades? Absolutely. Did I get behind? Absolutely. Did I wonder why I chose to go back to get my Masters - everyday? Absolutely. Did I learn, grown, heal, gain knowledge, amplify passions, become stronger and build my skill set and connect with incredible people? Absolutely. Was it worth it? Absolutely!


KS: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

JG: In five years I see myself with a not so little kid anymore, who will be beautifully and lovingly taking over a new chapter of his life…sigh. I see myself working with women and single parent families. I still see myself drinking a lot of coffee, investing in intentional connections with souls and investing in the lives of others. I see The Soul Grind becoming a much larger, connected community. I see myself speaking and engaging with women from state to state who have encountered some of the same dark times I have, and together we will shine the light and help other women heal, love themselves and find their voices. I see myself advocating heavily and passionately for domestic and intimate partner survivors within this community and beyond. In vulnerability we are brave and so I hope to continue to be brave and tell my story, so that even if it benefits one soul, then it was worth it.

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