- Jasmine M., ’20 graduate.
I Found Myself at this Placement
Being an intern at the Service, Teaching, Aging, and Research Lab (formerly CARE) has been a self-discovery journey. I never imagined that my field placement with STAR would re-direct my desire to work with the older population, mainly the older LGBTQ adult population. Early on, during my field placement with STAR, I was asked to read a publication that my field supervisor wrote while working for STAR for Elders. I was quick to find myself profoundly engaged with the section on The Older Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community. Reading the LGBTQ implications on aging opened a welcoming discussion with my field instructor, in which she then offered to connect me with an older LGBTQ member to discuss LGBTQ issues from her perspective. Without a doubt, I took the opportunity.
One hour can really change your perspective and purpose in life. I always knew I wanted to dedicate my life to helping those in need, but I did not know where I wanted to focus my energy. That one hour talking with an LGBTQ senior about issues impacting her, was all it took to inspire me and pave the way to choosing the LGBTQ older adult population as my career's focal point. In just 60 minutes, I attained a better understanding and perspective on the LGBTQ older community's social issues. That one-hour conversation made me become conscious of the fact that there is a troubling generation gap among older and younger members of the LGBTQ community, and it has marginalized the older segment and deprived younger LGBTQ people of valuable insight into the historical fight for gay rights
One of the questions I asked Ms. G was, “What services do you believe we need more to address LGBTQ older adult issues?" Her response: “We need people like you, we need you guys, a lot of us are older, a lot of us are tired, and a lot of us aren't going to last in the next 20 years. How do we get the young folks helping us out like you are now, Jasmine?" Her response awakened something inside me. The seniors facing these issues are the same people who fought for gay rights for themselves and for generations to come. I am grateful that STAR gave me an opportunity to explore issues that are important to me, helped inspire me to strengthen my passion and dedication, and opened my eyes to critical issues I never knew existed.
The gay community believes we have moved so fast-forward with marriage equality. However, there is so much more we need to fight for. LGBTQ older people remain an invisible minority, and I have never been so inspired to dismantle any issue. There is systemic discrimination in our country, and we have yet to educate others on the problems older LGBTQ people face. No member should ever have to consider “going back into the closet" to receive adequate health care. We suppress too much; I have lived my life disconnected from older LGBTQ people, but STAR (formerly CARE) fostered what has become a life-changing opportunity.
Prior to starting my internship, I was a bit hesitant in working with older adults because it was not my population of interest; however, I kept an open mind and knew that the Social Work profession is versatile. I set my interests aside and valued learning more than anything, so I took the opportunity. Fast-forward to the first weeks in, and I have found my calling. It has molded me and taught me more than I could have ever imagined. I found myself at my field practicum with STAR (formerly CARE).
My name is Jasmine, and I am a proud member of the LGBTQ community; and I am even more proud to wear my advocacy hat to bring awareness to the issues of a fragmented LGBTQ population. It is my goal to bridge the gap between younger and older LGBTQ members through intergenerational interaction. The older generation fought many battles and faced years of stigmatization to ensure people like me don't have to live in fear and hide our true selves. I feel it is my responsibility to ensure they have the same opportunities for the rest of their lives.
UHD BSW Graduate, 2020