BA, Sociology, University of Illinois at Chicago, 2014
From central Illinois to Chicago
Elyse grew up in central Illinois and coming to Chicago for college exposed her to many new languages, cultures, and experiences. She took classes at both the UIC (Chicago) and U of I (Urbana-Champaign) campuses and felt that she learned more and different things from her classes at UIC, where, for her, the professors and the diversity had much more to offer. Elyse fell in love with sociology at UIC and took multiple classes in sociology and gender and women’s studies. She felt that the more classes she took, the more everything started to make sense.
During her time at UIC, Elyse took classes in which she learned a lot about Jim Crow laws, the War on Drugs, the prison pipeline, and gentrification. Because of where she grew up, Elyse was not exposed to such topics. The class showed her the effects such structures and processes have on groups of people. She learned a lot while studying at UIC, particularly about different perspectives and how things affect people differently, which has helped her in her current job.
Advocating for children
Currently, Elyse is a child abuse and neglect investigator in Kansas, and is in the process of becoming a foster care caseworker. Her main responsibilities as an investigator are to read the reports that are made regarding abuse or neglect of a child. She responds to the report by conducting interviews with the child to see how the children’s report does or does not reflect the formal report. After meeting with the child, Elyse speaks with parents and does a home visit. She will also talk with school staff, teachers, and anyone else connected to the child to get as much information as possible. This work requires her to use interview skills, to analyze the information given, and to draw conclusions about the next steps to be taken.
Watching children flourish
Elyse’s job is emotionally challenging but she loves what she does. Her favorite part about the job is engaging with the children for whom she is advocating and protecting. She loves seeing them grow and their personalities change.
If she’s not working, you can find Elyse taking mini road trips with her husband, white-water rafting, and planning for her next accomplishment: graduate school! She plans to go to law school or obtain a master’s in sociology.
Interviewed by Jacqueline Elizondo