Diana Morgan, a GS-5 Forest Service employee, has been a Social Services Assistant at Angell Job Corps for just over two years. Although new to government service, Diana has proven herself to be a positive influence on staff members and students alike. On June 12th of this year, Diana received her Masters degree in Human Services with a minor in Psychology. Her completion of this portion of her education became a turning point at Angell Job Corps. The Director realized that there were several employees who had received degrees or who were going to receive them and decided to recognize these staff members at the weekly all-student meetings.
Donna Harloff, the Center Director at Angell, stated, “Students at Job Corps need good role models and seeing that staff members are pursuing their educational goals is an excellent way to motivate them.” After volunteering to do this week’s interview for the GovLoop Member of the Week, I found it was not easy to locate folks who could take time out of their schedules to sit with me. Since I work the graveyard shift with Diana, I decided she should be the focus of my interview. She is a source of joy and humor on a daily basis and makes the graveyard shift more than bearable.
Diana, what exactly does a Social Services Assistant do?
Although the duties of a Social Service Assistant are somewhat minimal on the graveyard shift, I do my best to provide guidance and advice to students in the residential department, involving discussions about positive social skills, educational areas of concern and assisting students to form a plan of action to address areas that need improvement.
Other duties require me to collaborate with staff members to provide learning opportunities for students that emphasize social skills and, in the process, provide positive feedback by recognizing positive behavior and student achievements. Residential living promotes the idea of students being respectful to themselves and others. I try to handle situations with diversity issues, as well. We also advise staff of inadequate or negative adjustment of students and suggest means for remediation through Incident Reports (IR’s) and Case Notes.
As a SSA, we utilize skills in all aspects of student involvement in the dormitory operation (i.e., leadership, following directions, performing dorm responsibilities, and listening effectively). Paperwork and filing is also a very important aspect, especially on the graveyard shift. Most important for me, overall, in this job position, is to attempt to create an environment in residential living, where student input and feedback is encouraged and valued.
What did you do before coming to Angell Job Corps?
Before coming to Angell Job Corps, I worked in the private sector. I was self-employed and cleaned houses for a living. The majority of my clients were elderly individuals and prominent in the community. I titled my business; Diana’s Golden Girls Cleaning Service.
What made you decide to work for the Government rather than remain in the private sector?
The decision to turn toward government work came two-fold. I was not getting any younger and neither were my clients. Doctor’s suggested a change in job occupation and my clients were passing away. My educational direction pulled me toward working with the younger populace.
What is your favorite part of the job and what is your least favorite part?
My favorite part of the job is the students! Each of them has their own interesting story to tell and I learn from them. My least favorite part of the job is the obvious division of departments (Residential Living, Vocation, Education, and Counseling.) Rather than finding ways to work together as a whole organization for the good of the students, we tend to stick within our own groups. Another reason sites like GovLoop are so vital.
How about your ultimate goal?
My ultimate goal is to work as a supervisory guidance counselor, here at Angell Job Corps.
Why did you choose Human Services?
I chose Human Services because I enjoy communicating with others and motivating them to create goals for themselves, accept cultural differences and help them find resources that will assist them in their daily lives now and in the future.
Were you always good at dealing with teenagers?
No! For a very long time, I felt teenagers were just punks, especially after dealing with four boys of my own. My age populace of choice was the elderly. Teenagers have transformed my belief in positive attitude and change…
Name a couple of your favorite books/authors.
Brother Odd by Dean Koontz and The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy by Irvin D. Yalom.
Do you think GovLoop has made a difference in the way you look at Government work?
GovLoop has assisted me in understanding others views of policies and situations, etc. in the government sector that involve the work and activities people commit to and why they commit to them.
Thanks so much to Diana for sharing her time for this week’s interview!