A day in the life
Laura MacIntosh (BSW'11)
I came into this program thinking that I was confident, but realizing that I had a lot of work to do. I am a much more solid person because of the social work program.
An advocate and activist in the community
Laura MacIntosh works as a Peer Ally at Dalhousie. She offers counselling and promotes safe, inclusive spaces for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer (LGBTQ) students on campus.
“I really like the idea of being there as an advocate and an activist for LGBTQ rights,” she says. “It’s really nice to meet a lot of students around campus and have that community feeling.”
She credits the Social Work program for much of the passion she now puts into her work. But that’s too modest: during her first degree (in psychology) a professor could spot her calling a mile away.
“She said, you kind of have this idealistic frame of mind – you really want to change things, don’t you? I said yes. She said, maybe the activism side of social work is what you want to explore a little more.”
After looking at several social work programs, Dal’s social justice-based program caught her eye. She liked that the program helps to connect the personal to the political.
“This program instills in you the idea that the world as we see it is very socially constructed. And if it’s socially constructed, that means that we can change it. That’s a real key, especially in the work that I do."
New ideas and old beliefs
That said, the first few days were disorienting. Classes challenged her to articulate new ideas and reexamine old beliefs.
“That was actually really exciting for me, because nobody had ever asked me those questions before. Nobody had ever asked me why I thought the way I do.”
One project she did with classmate Britney Walker-Reid, called “It’s all about life,” is a wall decorated with art and articles by different members of the LGBTQ community.
“You wouldn’t necessarily think “Oh, a queer person did that.” But why don’t you,” she asks. “Why do you assume heterosexuality?”
Instead of focusing on sex or gender, the project transcends categories, focusing on a common humanity. It hangs in the School’s halls and new students still contribute to it.
All the self-knowledge she developed thinking about all aspects of her identity helps her in a job that addresses a diverse community crossing class, race or ability.
“Without really knowing who it is that we are,” she says, “I think it is really hard to get a grasp on working with others. And that’s what social work is all about.”