April 15, 2019Alumna Angelica Gehlich in a red jacket. [View Image]
Angelica Gehlich has always been interested in conflict resolution and helping put an end to gender-based violence. A 2013 graduate who double-majored in International Studies and Anthropology with a Religious Studies minor, Gehlich has spent the past few years mentoring young people in communities in Richmond and abroad. She begins VCU’s Master of Social Work program this fall.
Gehlich entered VCU as a transfer student from George Mason University where she had been majoring in conflict resolution. Once on our campus, she realized not only did she “have such a good feeling here” but that the School of World Studies taught many of the analytical and communication skills used in conflict resolution. Furthermore, our programs also prepared her to work internationally.
After enrolling her first few School of World Studies classes, Gehlich found “a lot of passion” for the subject matter came naturally to her. Her majors and minor helped her better “understand humanity” and especially to empathize with people from “different cultural backgrounds.” This cultural competence is a skill she uses “every day” in her current position as a student support coach at United Methodist Family Services.
Her time at the School of World Studies not only instilled in Gehlich an “interest to learn more about people” but also how to “learn from them” and ask the right questions from a place of curiosity without condescension. Gehlich also credits her service learning class and internship at the Richmond Peace Education Center as helping her focus on what she wanted to do professionally.
While Gehlich did not participate in a study abroad program at VCU, her International Studies degree did foster a desire to work outside the United States. After graduating, she volunteered in Kenya with Sunburst Projects and then spent a year in Nicaragua with the Peace Corps. Both experiences involved educating youth and women about gender-based violence and community health. The cultural competence she gained through the School of World Studies was instrumental to her time abroad as well as her professional roles since then.
After returning from Nicaragua last spring, Gehlich realized social work was where her skills and passions converged. The perspective she gained from the School of World Studies has informed her approach to social work. She aims to ultimately obtain a Masters in clinical social work, certificates in nonprofit management and gender-based violence, and continue working within communities to help improve their health and well-being.