“You don’t realize when you are sitting in class why you have to understand all of this stuff you are learning. But when you are in practice you realize why all of the tools and books and stuff you are learning in class
are so important.”

From the moment an individual sits down with Felicia Zoffka you are infected by her love of life. She is an incredibly charismatic woman with big
plans to make a positive difference in this world when she graduates.

Felicia grew up in Houston, Texas and has seven siblings. She grew up with five of the seven and her mom, a social worker. She actually started college at Stephen F. Austin State but felt like she belonged somewhere else and that she was wasting money. Since Felicia was footing the bill, she decided that she needed to make a change.

Felicia joined AmeriCorps after her second year at Stephen F. Austin State and ended up here in New Hampshire. She believes that AmeriCorps gave her direction in life. In her work for AmeriCorps, Felicia realized that she really wanted to be engaged and working with people. She decided to enroll in the Communication Disorders program at UNH and quickly found the program was not for her.

As a child Felicia saw the difficult nature of the work her mother had done as a social worker and thought that she wanted nothing to do with it. She was wrong. She discovered the field of social work is extremely broad and that there were opportunities outside of what her mom had done. So, Felicia switched her major to social work and hasn’t looked back. She believes it “was the best thing she ever did.”

Within the social work program Felicia was looking for an internship abroad that focused on orphanages working with children living with HIV and AIDS. She wasn’t having much luck finding this and began exploring other options. Felicia decided to apply to the International Research Opportunities Program and was accepted. Professor Lugalla helped her find an opportunity to research the role of social workers in regards to HIV and AIDS in Tanzania.

Being a part of the IROP program in Tanzania gave Felicia an incredible perspective on life. She discovered how important it is to know cultures besides her own and now understands there is so much more diversity in this world than just racial diversity. She saw true struggles for life and values the work that she will be doing in her field. Being in Tanzania helped her understand how truly difficult it is for poor nations to get funding and how important her voice will be in the future. “I just want to save the world, no actually I can’t, but I want to be part of the domino effect!”

Felicia, now in her senior year, interns at the Frannie-Peabody Center as a case manager for York County, Maine where she recently coordinated the York County World Aids Day. She feels her internship has broadened her skills in social
work and allowed her to apply the theories she has learned in class. “You don’t realize when you are sitting in class why you have to understand all of this stuff you are learning. But when you are in practice you realize why all of the tools and books and stuff you are learning in class are so important.”

As far as giving advice to first year students Felicia feels “it is so important for students to know it is ok if they don’t know what they want to do with the rest of their lives - to know that change is ok and to embrace change with open arms. Change can open the door to phenomenal experiences like IROP did for me.”

Felicia has plans to work on both a Master’s degree in Social Work and a Master’s
degree of Public Health. She believes these degrees will help her attain her goal of
aiding impoverished countries with high populations of persons with AIDS and HIV. She is also currently working on a certification that will allow her to teach English as a second language which in turn will allow her to come into contact with more people from cultures different than her own. It seems that Felicia already has made a positive influence in our world!

2013-2014 Honorees
2013 - 2014 CYOS Honorees: seated Zak Ahmad-Kahloon, Emily Dickman, Nyomi Guzman, Annie Crossman, standing Lauren McCandless, Kathryn Sattora, Timothy Marquis, Sid Nigam, Evan Beals, Peter Wilkinson
 
 
“Students are the focus of everything we do.”

Dept of Residential Life
13A Hitchcock Hall, 5 Quad Way-UNH
Durham, NH 03824
last updated 04/28/2014
Need More Information?
Ruth Abelmann, Associate Director
Department of Residential Life
University of New Hampshire
Phone (603) 862-2268