Kyla Ford’s academic journey started pretty hastily. At just 17 years old, she had moved out of her mother’s house, was just diagnosed with chronic regional pain syndrome and was recovering from surgery. She knew she wanted to go to school, so she enrolled in Kirkwood Community College and started studying human services.
“My brain was so foggy, I just literally applied to the first school I knew I could get into,” she said. “I don’t even know why I picked human services. Honestly, I think I took a career test and it said clergy or social worker and I was like, ‘OK, I’m not gonna’ be a clergy member, so I could probably do something with social work.’ But I didn’t realize where my trajectory was going.”
Little did she know, she would develop a passion that would lead to even more opportunities. Motivated by her studies at Kirkwood, Ford transferred to UNI and started studying social work, and became actively involved on campus. She took on leadership roles with Active Minds, Ethnic Student Promoters, the Student Social Work Association, UNI Mental Health Council and UNI’s NAACP chapter. She also became involved with the Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program, which allowed her to do original research — and prepare to continue her education.
For the first time, Ford has a vision of where life is going — she’s planning to pursue a doctorate in community psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago in fall 2019. It’s a huge shift from her mindset when she was 17 and running away from negative experiences. Today, Ford is looking forward and is excited about what the future holds. “This is the first decision I made that wasn’t decided by circumstance,” she said. “I got to make a decision, and I’m getting to form myself. And that’s something I’m really looking forward to.”
For more information about UNI's Department of Social Work, visit csbs.uni.edu/socialwork.