How I Got Ready: Joicenina’s Story

Not even a new baby could slow down Joicenina Carvalho ’19, who was determined to advance her education. Two semesters into her time at Alverno, she delivered her daughter. After taking only a couple of weeks off, she returned to school while also balancing work as a certified nursing assistant and health unit coordinator at a local hospital.

“I’m most proud of continuing my education at Alverno,” she says. “I was going to school full time and working third shift. The support for moms definitely grew during my time there. I’d tell my instructors about my situation, and they’d give me pointers if I needed them. And even the dean of students would always ask when she saw me, ‘How’s your daughter?’”

A family friend first introduced Carvalho to Alverno. She was looking for a college with a different learning environment, and Alverno seemed like the perfect fit.

“The best part was how Alverno teaches with the 8 Abilities,” she says. “Alverno’s environment and overall teaching methods are not traditional, but it’s so modern and efficient and in tune with how students learn. Alverno gives you a different perspective on how you can use your skills.”

After working with Alverno’s Career Studio staff, Carvalho knew she wanted to work in a helping profession, and she leaned toward nursing. Then Alverno launched its new social work major.

“It was perfect timing,” she says. “There are so many different directions you could go with social work. I fell in love with the idea that it was so flexible: I could get my master’s or PhD, or go straight into the workforce.”

During her last semester of college, she interned with the Children’s Wisconsin Community Services program as a family support specialist. Carvalho was hired before her May 2019 graduation as a family case manager with Children’s, a role in which she worked with families involved with the Division of Milwaukee Child Protective Services.

Thanks to Alverno’s emphasis on public speaking, group work and communication, Carvalho was ready. “That helped me work with a multitude of families. I have different techniques that I use with different family members. And I had to speak in court a lot, so it helps that I’ve developed the confidence to give information about a child’s case in front of a judge and attorneys.”

As much as she enjoyed the job, she decided to leave it in January for a teaching position with Match Corps. The AmeriCorps program will help pay for her graduate degree in social work after she works for a year teaching social history and social work to ninth graders at a low-income high school in the Boston area.

It’s a stepping stone toward her long-term dream: to eventually return to Alverno to teach other social work students.

“That would be the ultimate,” she says. “I’d love to see other girls benefit from Alverno’s education. I want my own daughter to go there someday.”


How did Alverno get you ready for your next step? We’re looking for alums to share their stories with us at magazine@alverno.edu.

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