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In election aftermath, one student looks to social work for empowerment

Lorrie Yinger, an adult learner who is a junior majoring in social work, met with me in the lobby of the library. Just before our discussion there was a large but peaceful demonstration outside of the library where students voiced their concerns about the results of last week’s presidential election.

Yinger not only aspires to be a social worker, but has worked as an addictions counselor for several years. When I asked her how this election would affect her career moving forward she sighed, slumping her shoulders.

“The outcome of this election could affect a phenomenal amount of people,” she said. “We’ll have to see what happens but I think it’s going to make social work more challenging because the people are still going to need the resources.”

Even though she may face difficulty moving forward, Yinger knows how important her work is.

“As a social worker, you work to help people and empower them,” she said.

The road to becoming a social worker has been long for Yinger. Before starting at Catonsville Community college in the 1980s, she had only completed the 8th grade and hadn’t obtained her GED until after she enrolled.

“There was a lack of guidance, lack of direction and priorities. It was just that type of upbringing,” Yinger said. “I always wanted to go to college but it was difficult when you’re not sure how to make that work.”

The process took a long time for Yinger because she had to balance raising two children and a full time job as an addictions counselor.

Because of the gap in her education, Yinger had difficulty with her writing when coming back to school, but found UMBC to have great resources for her to improve.

“I struggle with writing skills, so that would be my biggest weakness. I have utilized the learning center here for the first time last week and it was great,” she said.

At 52, Yinger is a grandmother. Her youngest grandchild just entered kindergarten, and in a way Yinger has gone through school alongside her children and grandchildren. 

Yinger is glad she chose to come to UMBC. She is able to take what she has learned and apply it to her job.

“I’m pleasantly, not totally surprised, but very happy with all of the new information that I’m learning, that I take to work with me so I can better serve my clients,” she said.

While we discussed the demonstration outside, Yinger brought up the importance of seeing and hearing other people’s points of view. She felt that UMBC welcomes diversity.  

“I’m half-Japanese, but I’ve never been in such a diverse environment, and it’s very nice,” Yinger said.