October 19, 2017 — The University of Illinois Chicago’s Sociology Department profiles Monica Lopez, recovery coach technician at the St. Monica Home.
BA, Sociology, UIC, 2016
Maria is a Recovery Coach Technician for the non-profit organization, Mom’s Recovery, a short-term residence for adult women who are pregnant or have children and need help due to mental illness or substance abuse. For many women, this temporary step allows them and their children to stay together while the program provides mothers with counseling, health care, parenting support, housing and job help, and a safe place to live. Maria’s responsibilities include supervising and encouraging good parental practices, helping her clients manage their appointments and responsibilities, and making sure the house runs safely and effectively.
Maria Lopez came to the United States nineteen years ago from her home country of Spain to find a puzzling condition in America. While taking English classes, she and her classmates often discussed how much inequality exists in America, despite its great wealth. Desiring to know how inequality could exist in her new country, Maria became a sociology major hoping to find answers to this surprising discovery.
Advantages of a sociology degree
Maria feels sociology majors have an advantage in the marketplace. Working alongside colleagues with different degrees, she has seen how her unique skillset helps her to better analyze the world around her. Using her critical thinking skills and her knowledge of sociological concepts, Maria is better armed to understand how social structures work, allowing her to see how people are impacted by these outside forces. This gives her the tools she needs to better assist them.
Advice for current students
Upon graduation, Maria found there to be challenges in the job market, the greatest of which was her lack of formal field experience. Many desirable job opportunities required up to two years’ experience working in an applicable field, which prevented her from applying. She encourages undergraduate students to find internships and to work summer and part-time jobs in the field they are interested in. This not only gives much-needed experience, but also allows students to explore diverse options and find what sparks their passion.
More about Maria!
Because she currently works at night, Maria jokes that she likes to sleep in her free time! She also enjoys time with her four children, and walking along Lake Michigan. Growing up by the Mediterranean, Maria says, instilled a love of the water.
Interviewed by Jamie Yager, UIC