In this new series, Illinois graduate students share a look at a more-or-less typical day in their lives in their own words. Every graduate student experience is different. This series is designed to reflect and value that diversity. First up, Donzell Lampkins explores how he manages to find balance in the midst of a sometimes-hectic schedule.
By Donzell Lampkins
Hi, my name is Donzell Lampkins and I am a 1st year graduate student pursuing a Master of Social Work with a concentration in Healthcare. I am a graduate assistant for the school of social work, and a graduate mentor for the College of ACES. I am also a research Assistant for Dr. Venera Bekteshi (Assitant Professor, School of Social Work) whose research investigates Breast-cancer related health (cancer) disparities and immigrant populations, integration challenges and immigrant women.
My hope upon graduation is to become an Oncology Social Worker to assess and address the psychosocial and sociocultural needs of cancer patients and their families through counseling, referrals to resources, advocacy, etc. My hope is to also address health disparities among minorities with cancer through clinical research. My interest in oncology was solidified when my best friend/brother Sharinar was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2007. Since his diagnosis, I observed how his life was changed and affected by cancer. This interest has never left me.
My day-to-day schedule is hectic, but fun. I am typically at work or class Monday – Friday from 8am-8pm. Let's take a look at a typical Wednesday.
6 a.m.: My day usually begins with morning prayer with my wife, Ke’Ana (who also is pursuing her Master of Social Work) which helps us spiritually, mentally, and emotionally feel prepared for the day.
7 - 7:30 a.m.: I usually compete with Ke'Ana to see who can get ready the fastest (I always win, ha).
7:30 - 8 a.m.: We typically chat over breakfast, followed by packing our bags and lunch for the day.
8 a.m.: We are usually running to the bus-stop to take the 2CRed to get dropped off at work.
8:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.: I go to work at the School of Social Work. My duties vary from assisting the director with Reseach projects to sitting in on social media team meetings to speaking to prospective MSW students about my experience and why they should choose Illinois.
1 - 4 p.m.: I attend my first class of the day: Social Welfare and Policy where I am learning about how policies affect social work practice and how programs can work to address social issues.
4 - 5 p.m.: I take a break to hang with friends in my program. This is something we have begun to do regularly to relieve stress and just have a good time together outside of class.
5 - 8 p.m.: I attend my final class of the day: Advanced Interviewing and Clinical Assessment where I am engaging in methods for therapeutic interventions with clients who are highly distressed, angry, sad, or scared.
8 - 11 p.m.: Ke'Ana picks me up after a long day of work and class. Typically we have dinner, as she loves to try new recipes from Pinterest (which I love because I am constantly tasting great food!). Depending on how much energy I have left (which is not much, ha), I may review notes from class that day. After that, I turn my phone off and disconnect from the world to be with Ke’Ana. Most of the time, we try to catch up on television shows that we cannot watch in real time, such as Grey’s Anatomy, which we LOVE! We really just try to spend time with each other before bed. We typically end our night with prayer and reflection on our day.
When my life is not so hectic, I love to spend time with my wife, binge watch shows on Netflix and catch up on new episodes on Hulu, engage in dialogues addressing social issues on campus and abroad, swim, run and attend Sunday Worship Service.
I have learned that balance is key to being successful in graduate school. I am always trying to go to the latest workshops or panels held on campus, but I realized that I cannot do it all. However, I did discover that by sticking to a general schedule consisting of fixed and flexible time slots, I can do a lot! The old saying is true in that you will always find time to do what you love. I would advise anyone having trouble finding availability to look at what you spend your time doing. I have found that when I am feeling overwhelmed, it’s usually because I have given my time to something that I don’t enjoy or that I am not interested in. Spend your time doing what you love and balance will naturally form.
All photos are courtesty of Donzell Lampkins.
Illinois grad students - interested in writing a "Day in the Life" post of your own? Have an idea for a blog post? Send us an e-mail at email@example.com.
Donzell Lampkins is a 1st year graduate student pursuing a Master of Social Work with a concentration in Healthcare. He hopes to become an Oncology Social Worker to assess and address the psychosocial and sociocultural needs of cancer patients and their families through counseling, referrals to resources, and advocacy. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Ke-Ana, swimming, running, and attending Sunday Worship Service.