Scarlett Davalos, spurred on by her family, is making the most of her opportunities as a student here at the University of Illinois.
When Scarlett Davalos received her bachelor’s degree in social work, she was receiving it for more than herself.
“This journey is not only for me, but for my parents,” says Davalos, who is now continuing on for an MSW at the University of Illinois. “They started this journey for me when they migrated from Mexico to the US.” Because of life circumstances, neither parent was able to complete high school, but both now have their GEDs—something that makes Davalos proud. “My family is my drive,” she says. “They said seek out any opportunities we can. They told us to work hard. So, my family started this and I’m adding to it. We’re achieving it together.”
Davalos has made the most of her opportunities at Illinois, achieving a 4.0 GPA, being active in campus and community service, serving on the Student Diversity Committee, being a peer editor on the Journal of Undergraduate Social Work Research, and receiving multiple awards, including this year’s Student Diversity Leadership Award.
“It was a lot of late nights, a lot of stressing, but it was all worth it in the end,” she says.
Davalos intends to be a school social worker, ideally in high school. She was positively influenced by her high school guidance counselor and wants to be able to help youths in the same way she was helped. “High school is a time that can be tough, even overwhelming, for a lot of students,” she says. “I want to help them through the process.” But her sights extend beyond that as well. “I’m not sure if I’ll want to practice for a bit or pursue my PhD right away,” she says. “Practicing may help me refine my ideas for my PhD.” She wants to conduct research on first generation Latinx students and the impact being first generation has on their mental health.
Whatever she chooses, she loves the flexibility that social workers have. “We can make an impact at a micro level and at a macro level,” she says. “That really energizes me.”
Davalos is “incredibly grateful for the doors that have been opened here at the U of I as a first-generation Mexican-American. I cannot be thankful enough for all the support I’ve received—from the staff, my peers, my colleagues, and the faculty.”