Alumni News

February 27, 2020 at 10:29 am

Happy Beginnings | Whitlock Enjoys Working with Supportive Team in Children’s Services

Sierra Whitlock

Editor’s Note: The Happy Beginnings series features recent College of Arts & Sciences graduates who are getting started in careers, graduate school and service.

By Aissatou Boye, ’20

Sierra Whitlock ’16 ’18M is a children’s services worker with Hamilton County Children Services, an organization that helps families and those in need on a federal, state, and local level. Some of the services they provide include workplace development, child support, public assistance, and children services.

Whitlock earned a B.A. in Sociology-Criminology with a minor in Psychology from the College of Arts & Sciences at Ohio University. She also earned an M.A. in Sociology at OHIO, teaching two undergraduate classes during her second year.

‘Ensuring the Safety of Children’

Whitlock enjoys her role in this organization, noting that though it can be extremely stressful, it is quite fulfilling. She enjoys getting to help families build safe and supportive environments for their children.

“I love working with the children and interacting with families to create a case plan that is reflective of their goals, but also reflective of the agencies’,” she says.

Another aspect of her position is that every day she is doing something different from the day before. Some days she is in court prepping for a permanent custody trial. Some days she is traveling across the state to visit children in different facilities, and often she just interacts with families and evaluates progress.

“My job is primarily ensuring safety of children, and providing support for families in any capacity I can,” Whitlock explains. “While the job is extremely stressful, I work with a supportive team, and without them I don’t think I could do my job as effectively. They make coming to work enjoyable, offer advice and provide unconditional support.”

Her OHIO Experience

Whitlock’s undergraduate and graduate experience had an influence on her both socially and professionally. More specifically, she mentions three of her favorite professors who had an impact on her career in different ways.

Dr. Kelly Faust helped Whitlock fall in love with sociology. As she continued to learn from her, this passion expanded to include criminal justice and human rights. Whitlock adds that her favorite class was Violence Against Women, taught by Faust.

Dr. Ted Wesler challenged her to continue working harder when she was not happy with the original result. She also appreciated his sense of humor, noting that he made her laugh more than any other professor she had.

She says that Dr. Thomas Vander Ven simply helped her become a better person. His guidance while she taught her undergraduate classes helped her constantly work hard to grow personally and professionally.

“My whole experience at OU, specifically my sociology classes, helps me to look at the world through social issues at a macro level, and to dive into how these social issues affect my clients at the micro level. I help people every day who have experienced real hardships ranging from domestic violence to low socio-economic status needing help with housing to severe mental illnesses and child abuse,” she says.

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