Liz Ritchie is a senior social work major. She transferred to Longwood University after receiving her Associate of Science from Richard Bland College. She has dived right into campus life even though, as a transfer, she will only have been at Longwood for two years before graduating this May. I asked Liz about everything from her life as a transfer student, being a social work major, as well as how she navigates Longwood. Check it out below!
As you approach your last semester here at Longwood, you seem to have found your niche in university life. How did you cope with the adjustment period coming in as a transfer student?
It helped moving here with my best friend who was also a transfer and finding a job before school started. I made a lot of friends at work and I made a point to be extra friendly with my classmates, communicate about group projects, that sort of thing. I also got as involved as I could in anything relating to my major so I joined FSSW- Federation of Student Social Workers. Later, I had the honor of being inducted into Phi Alpha, a social work honor society. I volunteered in my free time, helping Joshua Bolt (teen living with cerebral palsy) and volunteering at Habitat for Humanity.
What attracted you to social work?
I have always been interested in helping others and interested in the fields of addictions and mental health. Social Work encompasses so much. You help people in all sorts of fields including those like substance abuse and mental health, as well as fields like geriatrics, trauma, foster and adoption, and much more. I know it sounds crazy, but also right before I moved to Farmville, I had a dream where a woman’s voice told me I should choose social work as my major. That really sealed the deal, if you believe in that kind of stuff.
What is one of the best memories you have made since coming to Longwood?
I hate this question because I can never choose just one. I will say that I really enjoy how small and close knit my classes are. Not only do we interact a lot in our classes, but we also bond outside of class. Because of this I have made such wonderful friends who I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying spring weekend, Greek week, and Oktoberfest with.
Have you faced any challenges that you feel are specific to college-aged women?
You know, as a woman you get the typical cat calls walking down the street or the typical being hit on by a drunk guy at a party. For me I find it hard to keep up your appearance and feel good about your body. I find myself comparing my looks or my “beauty” to other girls. It’s important to learn to love yourself and embrace your flaws as well.
What advice would you give to a woman coming into Longwood as a freshman?
That’s a tough one. I would say to pace yourself, don’t get down on yourself, and be patient. Pace yourself because there’s so much that college offers and so many people you will meet. But don’t take on more than you can handle. Also, pace yourself in relationships and friendships. Rushing into anything is never comfortable. Don’t get down on yourself. Coming into college can be scary. You may feel like you don’t belong, but you will find your place and come to really love it. It’s a change, but changes are good. They are the only thing that’s constant. And be patient. Maybe your first major didn’t work out. That’s okay. You can change it and you can change it more than once. Or maybe your roommates weren’t really working out. It’s okay. You’ll find some other great people that you get along with better. Just be patient. Things will work out. I promise.
What would be some tips you’d give for balancing work and play while at school?
Mark all your assignments, tests, quizzes, and whatever all into your calendar. Get your stuff done, to the best of your ability and then go play. Be organized and pace yourself so you don’t miss out on anything. But don’t ever overwork yourself. It’s not worth the stress and time.
What are your plans as you ease out into the “real world”?
This semester I will be in my field placement at the Woodlands, which is a retirement community here in Farmville. It’s a 500 hour internship, so I will be getting some “real world” hands on experience in an agency. But also, right now I’m working on grad school applications. I’m looking at applying to Radford’s MSW program. Hopefully after my two years there, I will be settling down and getting married to my long-time boyfriend of six years, Patrick, and moving to wherever I’m called. I hope to work in the mental health and substance abuse field or in the older Americans/geriatrics field. I also am looking into getting certified as an animal-assisted therapist. That way, I can work the therapy of animals into my practice. I’m a huge animal lover and I think they can be so helpful and soothing with clients of any population.