Natalie Diaz, MSW ’24, Awarded AAUW Career Development Grant
The American Association of University Women (AAUW) has awarded Natalie Diaz, MSW ’24, a $12,000 Career Development Grant for the 2022-23 academic year. The grant program is designed “to provide funding to women who hold a bachelor’s degree and are preparing to advance or change careers or re-enter the workforce in education, health and medical sciences, or social sciences.”
Natalie, who just finished her first year in Silver’s extended MSW pathway, earned her BA in history from Williams College. She has worked in real estate for the past 12 years and is continuing to work full-time as the Chief of Staff at Time Equities, Inc. while she pursues her MSW.
In her current position, Natalie said, “I work directly for the CEO of a very successful investment real estate firm who is engaged in a lot of philanthropic and political activities beyond his for-profit business. As a result, I have been involved in those efforts, but during COVID I had an awakening that that level of involvement just wasn’t enough. I realized I didn’t want to spend my entire career working towards creating wealth for a small group of people and that I wanted to use my time and talents on this earth to try to help people.”
Despite that realization, social work wasn’t initially on Natalie’s radar. “At first I looked at paths in philanthropy,” she said. “I was looking at roles that would be the strategic decision maker around driving funds to create change, but I discovered that the organizations I was exploring were essentially working for their executives’, boards’, and donors’ interests. As a result, I was not feeling as excited or enthusiastic as I wanted to feel about the opportunities I was looking at.” After six months trying to figure out the right path on her own, she turned to a “phenomenal” career coach, who recommended social work. “It was the best money I’ve ever spent in my life,” she said. “I honestly didn’t know that much about the social work field and I would have never come up with that without the help of a coach.”
Natalie was particularly compelled by social work’s biopsychosocial perspective and emphasis on social justice and structural change as well as individual clinical intervention. She noted, “Both the macro and micro level focuses are right up my alley and I’m planning to eventually make a career that’s split between both. I want to have a private practice that takes approximately 50% of my time and then also do macro level work, possibly as a policy maker.”
Among Natalie’s favorite classes in her first year at Silver were Human Behavior in the Social Environment 1 with Adjunct Assistant Professor Brian Mundy and the elective Political Social Work for Advocacy and Social Change with Adjunct Assistant Professor and New York State Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus.
Over the summer she is taking Practice with Groups and Diversity, Oppression, and Privilege (DROP), and in the fall she is looking forward to beginning her Field Placement, taking Social Work Practice I, and the elective Grief, Loss, and Bereavement.
In addition to her classes and full-time job, Natalie has also been involved with Silver’s Black Women’s Social Work Coalition which she says has been a great experience and given her connection with other Black women in the program. “I wish I could get involved with more things,” she said, “but I only have so much time in the day.”
Learn more about Natalie on her website at nataliediazwellness.com.