Nekitta Beans, a recent graduate of The University of Alabama’s School of Social Work, lives in Washington, D.C.’s Ward 8 neighborhood. She came here for her field placement as a part the Master of Social Work Program. As an intern for Far Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative (FSFSC), Nekitta’s work was in policy and advocacy, lobbying for others on Capitol Hill and participating in the 36th Annual Social Work at the United Nations in New York City. “It was challenging, but if I can do two classes, an internship and a new city at the same time, I can do anything.”
Nekkita’s drive was evident at FSFSC. So impressed with her dedicated and outstanding work, they offered a full time position upon graduation. Foregoing her moment on stage at commencement, Nekitta drove home to pack her car, hug her loved ones and turn back for Washington.
Her role with FSFSC is an immersive one, living in the neighborhood and sharing the experiences of her clients as their neighbor, wondering if she’ll ever grow accustomed to the street sounds and sirens as they seem to be. In some ways, this community of 75,000 is not much different from the town of 5,000 where Nekkita was raised.
In the small town of Philadelphia, Mississippi, six-year-old Nekkita lost her mother, and her world shifted farther off its axis with each coming day. Left in the care of her abusive stepfather, she and her siblings soon entered the foster care system, saddled with the emotional confusion of fear and relief. Nekkita does not shy away from her past. “I share my story, because it might help somebody or motivate one person to action.”
When asked why she chose to pursue social work for her own career, Nekitta is quick to clarify. “Social work chose me. It saved my life.”
That life eventually led her to UA. She admits she wrestled with imposter syndrome as a first-generation college student on a big campus. While she felt she did not belong the first day of class, her social work cohort quickly became the support she needed to kindle her fire. “I chose The University of Alabama, because it is one of the best programs in the country. I have a rich, strong connection to my faculty and staff.”
“My experience at UA taught me to demonstrate true grit. I was able to put my heart in it and learn to balance passion with priorities. To think critically and outside the box. It all positively contributes to the work I do now, making me a better social worker.”
Resolved to improve the lives of her neighbors in Washington, Nekitta is now fully immersed in her work, developing her experience and enterprising new ways to be the most effective. She is teaching parenting and job-readiness classes in prisons, grant writing and successfully relocating families. Every day in Washington is another day she meets her goal. “I want to dedicate my life to saving children, to saving people who can’t help themselves.”
The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.