Kaneyia Houston has had a goal since sixth grade to become a social worker. After first experiencing social workers at her grandfather's nursing home and then again during a hospital stay for her dad, Houston decided that social work was the path for her.
“I was grateful for the social workers [that worked with my grandfather and dad] and I liked the idea of being able to make a difference in other’s lives while also allowing them to see that they can do it even without my help,” Houston said.
A native of Fairview Heights, Illinois, Houston became an out-of-state student because of the prestige of IUPUI’s social work program, calling it the best in Indiana.
Upon arrival in Indianapolis, Houston found another way to help others through Paws’ Pantry. During her internship with the Office of Student Advocacy and Support (OSAS), Houston was instrumental in helping start Paws’ Express within Paws’ Pantry.
The internship checked the boxes for Houston’s passions, and she was able to gain real-world experience in helping others.
“I learned how to interact with students, provide resources to students when they can't find them on their own and learned some of the basics of a food pantry,” Houston said. “I think the most important thing that I learned is that you have to meet the student where they are and work with them as much as they allow while letting them know you are there for support along the way.”
The impact of Paws’ Pantry can’t be understated as it has helped reduce the numbers of food-insecure students on campus. Houston was appreciative of the experience, and the internship has helped her long term.
“I would like to thank the entire OSAS team,” Houston said. “They helped me to become much more confident in my work as a future social worker.”
For Houston, the future is now. She finished her undergraduate degree this spring, but her time at IUPUI is not over. She plans to stay in Indianapolis and pursue her master’s degree in social work.
From there, she will keep doing what she’s been doing all along -- helping others and making a difference.