Tell me about yourself.
My name is Bethel Kifle and I am a first-year graduate student at UChicago studying social work on the social admin track. My program of study is Transforming Justice Practices and Policies and I am an abolitionist working towards a reality where a carceral state no longer exists.
What are some challenges you face as an FLI student?
I think most of the challenges are things that have been challenges over the course of my life. As a low-income, immigrant student – the burdens of the family are much heavier than for others. In some more financially stable or wealthy families, students can rely on their relatives for support. For me, it’s the inverse. Despite placing boundaries and trying to focus on myself, being poor and my family’s poverty will continue to be a challenge. I am forced to figure out working to pay my bills, my siblings’ needs, do an unpaid field placement, and stay on top of my school work in addition to providing emotional or financial support to my family members.
Is there a resource you wish the university had?
In undergrad, we had centers with dedicated staff members we could speak with to discuss academic or personal challenges as well as interests. At UChicago, it feels like we are left to our own devices to figure everything out on our own. I understand we’re adults but it would be nice to have a consistent resource in our corner to support us along the way (outside of academic advisors).
What advice would you offer to incoming FLI students?
I would advise them to seek out like-minded FLI students and connect with them right away. Because classes have been virtual, group chats have been a safe haven to vent or make jokes together and a primary reason I’ve kept pushing forward.
How did your affiliation with the First-generation, lower-income, and Immigrant (FLI) Community influence your choice of profession?
It’s impossible for me to detach my FLI background from my choice to pursue social work. I recognize the difficulties our communities face and the immense access to the privilege I have by virtue of attending UChicago.