Hometown: Naugatuck, Conn.
Major: Social Work
WCSU Degree: Bachelor of Arts, Social Work
Internships: Two internships: one at Putnam Community Action Program in Brewster, N.Y., and one at Connecticut State Department of Children and Families in Danbury, Conn.
Activities: Part-time job as a pharmacy technician at Rite Aid Pharmacy, organist at United Methodist Church, involved in community organizing project to spread awareness of the need for sanitary water in an impoverished community
Honors and Awards: 3.52 GPA, Dean's List
Before transferring to Western, Cherelle Solomon attended Middlesex Community College in Middletown, Conn., for two years. She transferred her credits from MCC to WCSU, and has not regretted her decision since.
"Out of all of the schools that offered social work as a major, I chose WCSU because I felt the most welcome," she says. "The administration was really welcoming, they were quick to schedule a time to meet with me, and pointed me in all of the right directions. I didn’t get that type of reception from any other school."
When asked why she chose to pursue a career in social work, Solomon shares an intensely personal reason. "I suppose I am an example of the popular adage, 'giving back from whence we came.' The reasons for which DCF has to be involved with a family can have lasting effects on a child — I have first-hand knowledge of that fact," she says. "I’ve always felt obligated to protect children, because they’re such a vulnerable population. I want to give a child the opportunity to actually experience a childhood."
Solomon says she was lucky to have had really great professors during her time at WestConn. "I was truly influenced by Professor Patricia Ivry in the social work department," she explains. "She was tough, but only because she expected the very best from her students. She challenged me to think in broader terms and be more conscientious about my writing. Her emphasis on academic excellence empowered me to be a better student, and ultimately, a better social worker."
Asked what she will remember most about her WCSU experience, Solomon says, "It’s hard to pinpoint just one moment – I really have loved every minute of being at WestConn. But I think my most memorable experience has been my internship with DCF. Since I realized that I wanted to be a social worker, I wanted the chance to work there. I was lucky to have gotten the opportunity to do so.”
After graduation, Solomon plans to attend law school, in hopes of becoming a child advocacy lawyer.
Solomon’s advice to new students entering WCSU is: “Be as involved as possible in every activity on campus. Not only is it fun, but you meet a lot of people and it doesn’t make your resume look bad, either. Every decision you make will have some sort of effect on the rest of your academic career, so don’t be afraid to make mistakes – just be smart.”