Karen Marquez ’22 aspires to help her community through her studies
Karen Marquez ‘22 is a senior social work major with minors in Hispanic studies and criminal justice. Marquez is a heritage speaker of Spanish, and has a deep love for languages, culture, and diversity. She hopes to use her degree and the skills she is learning at PLU to help people in need.
“I always knew I wanted to help people,” said Marquez about why she chose to study social work. She originally intended to be a French major at PLU, as she had taken French courses in high school. She found social work was a better fit after being introduced to the career field in a few classes. “I love community work and community outreach, and I have learned a lot about myself too.”
Marquez currently has an internship working with middle school students in Federal Way. Her placement is with a nonprofit organization that helps students connect with their community and get extra support. Marquez enjoys working with youth, so this position was an excellent fit for her.
Marquez’s internship also connects to her capstone project, which is about finding resources for refugee families.
“We have a caseload, and we work with a couple of students who come from refugee families. It has been so great to work with them and be a part of their lives,” she said.I love that they can count on me and come to me if they need anything, and I have enjoyed getting to know each of them and learning about their cultures and languages.”
Marquez believes her Hispanic studies minor will help her in her social work career. “At first I did not want to take Spanish because I am a heritage speaker, but it was actually really good to polish my Spanish and learn about my own and other cultures. It will help me when working with Spanish speaking communities, and also when working with immigrants and refugees.”
As a Latina, Marquez stressed the importance of finding and building her own community at PLU.
“We all have different experiences at college. I am a first-generation student. I feel like I have had support and created a community at PLU. I am involved in Latinx club, and my professors have really helped me feel supported and helped me build that community, especially David Simpson and Giovanna Urdangarain.”
After her graduation this May, Marquez plans to take some time off from school before eventually attending graduate school to earn her Master’s degree in social work.
“I want to have a year to celebrate my accomplishments. It’s kind of scary, because all my life I have been a student,” she said. Marquez hopes to find some training programs related to her career to participate in, and will continue to help those around her through her compassion and love for community.