Supporting children and their families through mental health crises at one of the nation's leading children's hospitals
"Without scholarship support, I would not have been able to attend the University of Chicago. I promise, one day, to be in a position so I can help more students fulfill their dreams."
After spending most of his lifetime on the West Coast, Kyle Bullock packed his belongings to move from California to Chicago—specifically to attend the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration (SSA).
The cross country journey was the next step in his search for a new career. Bullock already had a B.A. in anthropology (with minors in music and geography), along with a Single Subject California Teaching Credential in Social Sciences from California State University Long Beach. But motivated to pursue a career in social service and inspired by the words of his father, who counseled him as a young child: "Do something that you love to do, Kyle. That is the most important thing in life"—Bullock sent in his application to SSA.
Also attracting Bullock to SSA were the reputation and academic rigor of the University of Chicago. The prospect—and challenge—of pushing himself academically at a top university was especially exciting. "Since I was a teenager, I dreamed of attending an elite university, but never had the means to do so," Bullock says. Then, "SSA gave me the biggest scholarship of any social work program. I thought, 'I would be a fool to turn this down.'"
At his field placement in the inpatient unit of the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Bullock integrated his interests and classroom learning with hands-on training and real-world problem solving. He had many opportunities to learn how to support children, adolescents, and their families through a mental health crisis.
When Bullock arrived at SSA, he already had three years of experience working for an LGBTQ community center. His work at the center made him realize that the "people I respected most were social workers, and they greatly influenced my decision to come to SSA. I was attracted to their client centered approach and their orientation to person-in-environment," he explains. In fact, one social worker who inspired Bullock was Francine Togneri, AM '85, current Director of Behavioral Health Services at ChildNet Youth and Family Services in Long Beach, CA. Bullock hopes his advanced SSA training will put him on a new career path working with children and adolescents, possibly in the mental health field.