Casey Rogers is one of five Maine Department of Education interns this summer. A senior at the University of Maine this fall, she’s logging a lot of miles in DOE’s Migrant Education Program.

The busy social work major talks about her summer and also offers advice on how to stay chill as the new school year starts.

Name: Casey Rogers

Age: 20

Lives: Farmington (and Orono during the school year)

What first drew you into social work? When I was graduating high school, like a lot of kids, I had no idea what I wanted to do for a career. All I did know was that I wanted to continue my schooling and I wanted to work closely with other people. The reason I decided to go to UMaine, actually, was because of their Explorations program, which is designed for incoming first years who want to explore different options. One of the classes I was placed into was sociology and I immediately loved the class. After speaking with my advisor and doing some of my own research, I came across social work as a major and it seemed like it was everything I was looking for. I continue to be drawn to social work because as I’ve grown and found my own voice, I want to be able to support others in that process, in whatever situation they may be facing.

What are your take-aways from spending time up in The County and interviewing migrant workers? The majority of the migrant workers at the broccoli camps were primarily Spanish speaking, and I, unfortunately, know little-to-no Spanish. So another recruiter I was paired up with, Matt, did the majority of the talking while I would fill out the paperwork. As much as it made me wish I had taken some Spanish classes in school, it was still just so amazing to be where the workers are, to get them signed up for the education services and to see my awesome co-workers engage with the workers. It definitely made me all the more excited to spend about four weeks in the Machias area for blueberry season recruiting!

What message are you trying to get out?  For businesses, the message we are trying to get out is that by working with us, they are supporting their employees’ personal and educational needs, and by supporting their employees they are supporting their own business. For community organizations, I think the message is largely about collaboration. I will say that the amount of community organizations that I’ve learned about through my internship, and all of the people I’ve met who are dedicated to helping others, is really beautiful! Then, of course, the message to the migrant workers and families is that there are great services available to support them.

What’s on your car speakers as you log all those internship-related miles? I like a lot of different kinds of music, but I’ll spare you my very long answer and just say that I’ll never get tired of The Head and The Heart, Death Cab For Cutie and Matt & Kim.

Sounds like you’re really active at UMaine. Coolest activity you helped organize with the Campus Activities Board? The coolest event . . . is one that I cannot take any credit for and that is the Poetry Slam! CAB’s former president, Cam Grover, who is wonderful and talented, created this event and continues to take the lead on the Slam, which happens every semester. It always has an amazing lineup of student performers and it’s always so well attended. I loved attending the Poetry Slam before I was involved with CAB and so I’m happy to be a part of a group that helps out with an event that encourages self-expression and storytelling!

Activity that we should all try to host ourselves, if possible: One event I went to on campus, hosted by Campus Activities and Student Engagement (the office that oversees CAB), was a Canvas & Coffee event during finals week. Everyone got a canvas and some paint and there was an instructor who walked everyone through the steps of the same painting. And, of course, there was free coffee, too! A lot of people attended and enjoyed the event, but it’s also something that anyone can do with their families or a group of friends!

You also work at the counseling center on campus. As summer winds down and parents and kids think about school starting up again, three pieces of advice for not letting school stress get to them? Above all else, make sure you take care of your needs! But assuming you are eating, drinking lots of water and getting a nice amount of sleep, here are three additional pieces of advice that I believe to be important:

1. Find an activity that takes your mind off of everything else going on. During the school year at least, that activity for me would be the improv comedy group I’m in. When people think of mindfulness they don’t typically think of comedy, but honestly, that is what it is for me. When I’m in rehearsal, I’m focused on what I’m doing, what’s happening in a scene, how I can improve, and I’m also laughing! So, find what that is for you, whether it’s exercising, gardening, yoga or a new project. Find something that takes all of your attention.

2. Know when you need a moment for yourself and take it. When I’m having a stressful day, I have to remember to take moments here and there for myself to breathe and be by myself. Just sit in your car for an extra minute before going to class, let a song on the radio finish before walking into work, sit on a bench for minute just to breathe, or step out of your office just to walk around. When you’re stressed, angry or tired, taking a minute for yourself might not make all of your problems go away, but it allows you to go back to what you were doing with a fresher mind.

3. Remember to engage with other people. Ask them how their day is going, listen to their answer and ask questions and let them to do the same for you! That might seem overly simple, or you might be thinking, “Ew, Casey, I don’t want to talk to other people,” and I get it! But if you think about it, just engaging with another person for a short amount of time can be very powerful. Other people can relate to us, they can support us, they can take some pressure off of our shoulders just by listening to us think out loud for a minute, and we can do the same for them.

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Casey Rogers

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