OTTAWA — Erica Hageman, a 17-year-old junior at Ottawa-Glandorf High School, has her sights set on a career in social work.
“I plan to start at the Lima branch of the Ohio State University and get my degree in Social Work. I plan to get both my bachelor’s degree and my master’s degree. I’ll start in Lima and then eventually after two or three years go to the main campus,” she said.
So what motivated her to seek out a career in social work?
“I’m a Type I diabetic. Ever since I’ve been diagnosed I’ve always wanted to help others in the same situation as me. I learned through my doctors that being a medical social worker is something where I can really give back to people who are helping me through the same thing,” she said.
Because of her experience as a diabetic, she’s served as a camp counselor at Diabetes Youth Services. She’s been working a video about diabetes that she’ll use as her project for her Gold Award in Girl Scouts.
Hageman is in several clubs and is musically inclined too.
“I’m in Key Club, I recently joined Glamour Gals and I’m a third-year member of our show choir. I’m a part of our concert band and marching band, co-field commander of the marching band actually and I’m in Chorale, which is the junior and senior ensemble for choir,” she said.
Hageman is also involved in promoting mental health issues, including suicide prevention.
“I’m part of a group called PARTY, Putnam Adolescence Response Team for Youth, and we’re against underage drinking. We also work in Pathways, which helps with counseling and mental health facilities, so we were trying to get the word out about suicide as well.I have personal friends who have gone through thoughts of that,” she said.
On Sept. 10th, Hageman and others in the PARTY group put positive messages on classmates lockers.
“I helped put my friends’ idea in action to bring awareness to suicide prevention. For Worldwide Suicide Prevention Day we organized a Yellow-Out and put locker signs on everyone’s lockers,” she said.
“There’s a lot of stigma around mental health and suicide and I feel like it’s something that needs talked about and something that everyone should know about. It just doesn’t get talked and brought up enough in our society in this day and age,” she noted.
Hageman is pleased with her experience at Ottawa-Glandorf High School.
“I think it’s a really positive school. We try to keep up to date on what’s happening in the world right now and all of the teachers are very encouraging and want to see you succeed,” she said.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.