About The Author

About me
At the time of writing this blog (November, 2011) I am a first-year doctoral student at Virginia Commonwealth University's School of Social Work. I decided to pursue a Ph.D. in Social Work both because of my own experiences as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker practicing with people who have serious and persistent mental illness and because of my own experiences as a lesbian, a person of faith, and a former evangelical-fundamental-Christian-closeted-homosexual.

My take on social work research
As a social work researcher, I view reality as having many possibilities, and is therefore subjective to each individual. I do acknowledge the inherent order in the world and the inevitability of regulation and status quo as dominating forces in the structure of society. I come to this conclusion after having experienced the multiplicity of realities that are possible in the world. I have traveled abroad to Rio De Janiero, Brazil, Johannesburg, South Africa, Berlin, Germany, and Prague, in the Czech Republic. I lived in South Africa for over 2 months. I acknowledge that there are multiple ways of living in the world and understanding the world. I enjoy seeking to understand the meaning of the social world from someone else’s perspective. Therefore, at first glance, one might consider me to come from an interpretivist paradigmatic perspective. However, I often catch myself wanting to find the “right” way of doing things, and the best way to “control” the outcome of some project. This is apparent in my construction of potential research questions. I am constantly seeking the “cause” of some phenomena, and am concerned with the validity and reliability of a research design. Therefore, my application of knowledge in social work research might be in a functionalist paradigmatic perspective. However, I also acknowledge the oppressive nature inherent in the system as it relates to non-heterosexual people’s lives, therefore I long for a new structure where equality is the social norm instead of inequality. This would then situate me as a radical structuralist. Even still, I acknowledge that putting people into categories such as heterosexual and non-heterosexual can be a form of oppression, and the better way of going about bringing freedom to the oppressed people of the world is to break free from the bonds that tie us down. The pathway of achieving this liberation is through becoming aware of the presence of the bonds and limitations, and how we create them and sustain them in our everyday lives. I acknowledge that I sustain the oppressive structure of heterosexism by calling myself a lesbian (as a queer theorist, this is a constructed identity and upholds the presence of heterosexuality as the “other” to which I compare myself as a lesbian). Therefore, this sort of thinking might place me in a radical humanist paradigmatic perspective.

However, if I am to earn a living as a social work scholar, I often tie myself to the functionalist paradigmatic perspective because in my mind that is the easiest of the four paradigms to make a living out of. I understand the operations of a university as it relates to tenure and the expectations that would be placed on me as a professor at a university for achievement of certain goals. I expect that my work under these assumptions will almost certainly return to me in the form of continued employment. I acknowledge that I give up the depth of meaning that the interpretivist paradigm offers me, and the liberation that the radical structuralist and humanist paradigms offer. In return, I gain the opportunity to put forth knowledge about an oppressed group, LGB people of faith, to the social work profession and to the greater scholarly knowledge base of social science. I am not certain that this is the paradigmatic perspective that I will “arrive” at, but it seems the most plausible for me at this early point in my career.

Watch this short video that gives you a snapshot of my journey to becoming a scholar:


Acknowledgements
I'd like to give a big thanks to all who have helped to make this journey possible, from those who were there in the beginning to those who are here in the present! I can't list every single person that I would like to acknowledge, but I would particularly like to thank my partner Ginny for her long-suffering, encouragement, and support. I'd also like to thank all the members of my 2011 cohort... Amy, Beth-Ann, Caren, Cynthia, Crystal, Jennifer, Mary, Ngoc, and Sundonia (plus our additional cohort member Spencer) and my professor Mary Katherine O'Connor. Thank you also to those at UNCCharlotte who set me along this journey long before I realized I was even on it. And finally, thank you to all my friends, family, and colleagues not specifically mentioned here!

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