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When Shannan Martin transferred into Warren Wilson College, she didn’t have dreadlocks, she shaved under her arms, and she wasn’t vegetarian or vegan. But although she was different than many Warren Wilson students, she had no regrets about her choice—in fact, she felt right at home. “I loved Warren Wilson,” she says, “because it was a place where people really cared about the things that were important to me. I enjoyed being in a place where people were accepted and felt like they could truly be themselves, and it made me happy to be in such a physically beautiful environment.”
Shannan transferred from Berea College in Kentucky, which is also a work college, as a junior and with a social work major already declared. She graduated from Warren Wilson in 1997, feeling well prepared to compete in the job market—thanks to the work component at Berea and the Triad at Warren Wilson. “I had much more relevant experience coming out of college than the average graduate,” she says, “My resume was much more compelling and I had lots to talk about during job interviews.”
Shannan moved back to her home state of Kentucky after graduation. Two weeks later she married Nathan Rome, whom she had met while at Berea. Just a few weeks later Shannan secured a job as a case worker with a traditional Big Brothers Big Sisters program, matching children from single-parent households with adult volunteers who would act as mentors. She was also given the opportunity to start a school-based mentoring program in which volunteers came to the local middle school for one hour each week. “It was a real learning experience for me,” Shannan explains, “because I had to develop a training manual, train new volunteers, and build relationships with the school personnel. I really loved that job, but I quit after two years because of a conflict with my graduate school schedule.”
Shannan then focused on completing her Masters of Science in Social Work, which she received from the Kent School of Social Work at the University of Louisville. Upon graduating, she was hired as the director of a community center in a low income, primarily African-American neighborhood. The center had never had a paid director.
“I had to start from scratch on a lot of things,” she says, “such as organizing new programs, developing a policies and procedures manual, creating a volunteer application and training process, and writing grants.” Shannan was the only white staff member, and only two of the 75 volunteers were white. She admits that she felt self-conscious at first, but after proving that her intentions were good and that she was willing to work hard to make positive changes, she was treated as part of the family.
Shannan worked as the director at the community center until she was eight months pregnant, when she quit to stay home with her baby. Since then, she has worked part-time jobs so she could raise her children—Benjamin, who is now eleven years old, and his eight-year-old sister Leah. Shannan is currently the coordinator and facilitator of a divorce education program called Families in Transitions, and she does grant writing for a child abuse prevention agency. She began working two to three days a week at the local county health department as a social worker in the Home Health agency, providing care to primarily elderly patients in their homes. “I never thought that I would want to focus on the geriatric population,” she says, “but I have found that I really love it. I also love getting out in the community and developing a relationship with my patients. Home Health is a wonderful place to work.”
Since then she has starting working in home health in 2008 through the Franklin county health dept. She Works part time four days a week doing medical social services and case management for Medicaid waiver patients.
Her duties have recently expanded at the health department to work with the HANDS program, which is a program that provides info and support to first time parents with children from 0-2.
Shannan enjoys spending time with her kids and husband and with other families with small children. She also likes to work in her garden, read, and watch movies with her husband—and she admits that she’s “a little addicted to Sudoku puzzles.”
Shannan is open to questions about her experiences and eager to help students explore career or graduate school opportunities. You can email her at email@example.com.