HUMANS OF THE U: NICOLE SHAW

“On the first day of my master of social work program I heard about a study abroad trip to Kumasi, Ashanti, Ghana, during spring break 2016. I am interested in pairing my mental health experience with working internationally so I applied immediately and got in.

The U helped Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology set up a social work program several years ago. Our project was to conduct focus groups to find out how the program is going and how it could be improved.

After our focus group, students asked us about our lives. They use American and British textbooks and one student asked me why there was a chapter devoted to managing stress. She explained to me that the concept of stress as we understand it — they don’t experience that in Ghana because they live in the here and now. She also brought up anxiety and depression, which are described in the textbooks, and asked why this is such a problem. I told her we have so many expectations that we feel we can’t meet. She said, ‘Why not? Why can’t you just accept and love where you’re at right now?’ What she said really stuck with me.”

— Nicole Shaw, social work graduate student

We’ll be featuring Humans of the U and sharing their stories throughout the year with the university community. If you know someone with a compelling story, let us know at ThisWeek@utah.edu.