“I used to not stand up for myself. I think because of the nature of kindness at Baylor and the sense of advocacy that the School of Social Work instills, I do [now],” said Isabella Book, winner of the Garland School of Social Work BSW Spirt of Social Work Award. “I always knew I had it in me, but I just never carried through. I have a voice now, and I'm not afraid to use it.”
Isabella said along with learning about the importance of advocacy, the Garland School of Social Work has also inspired her to pursue what she believes to be her lifelong purpose and career path-- being a hospice social worker.
“I had Dr. Helen Harris for my Loss and Mourning class. I want to be a pediatric hospice social worker just like her. Everything that she does and everything that she’s talked about, I want, too,” Isabella said.
Isabella said that with the guidance of Professor Carolyn Cole and through her resourcefulness, Isabella was able to land her ideal social work internship at Community Healthcare of Texas - Providence Hospice in Waco. This internship greatly sparked her passion and interest as an intern in hospice care
Although the position was in the niche field in which she hoped, Isabella admitted that her work at Community Healthcare of Texas wasn’t necessarily seamless or simple.
Isabella explained that while her job certainly was rewarding, it also consisted of excruciatingly painful moments, too, such as bereavement calls to families, patient suicide assessments and holding patients’ hands as they take their final breaths.
Isabella is an amazing person, and an even more amazing social work intern. She has the biggest heart for others and has provided a constant source of light and hope in our cohort. Isabella has taken on her internship with hospice with such great determination and courage, and she has truly excelled.
Isabella said that out of the 10 patients in her caseload in the fall 2020 semester, all 10 passed away, which was very emotionally draining. However, she recalls one patient in particular that stood out to her in her time at Community Healthcare of Texas that was a hospice anomaly and “success story” that she met in September of 2020, early on in her internship.
“Hospice means you know they have six months to live. By November though, he was actually getting better. So, they took him off of hospice, [but during his time there] he and I formed a great relationship. He calls me ‘mija,’ which means daughter in Spanish,” Isabella said.
She explained that because of the short nature of the typical relationship between her and her patients due to the realities of hospice care, this relationship is all the more rare and meaningful for her.
“This man was amazing. I recently had to say goodbye to him and he told me, ‘You know, I think I’m going to live 2, 3, 4 more years after this so I can meet your children,’” she recounted.
The ability to make these kinds of connections, to live into one’s calling and to create these special bonds is the epitome of the “spirit” of social work!
A colleague said, “Isabella is an amazing person, and an even more amazing social work intern. She has the biggest heart for others and has provided a constant source of light and hope in our cohort. Isabella has taken on her internship with hospice with such great determination and courage, and she has truly excelled. Isabella is able to tackle anything that comes her way.”
Congratulations, Isabella! Continue to live into that spirit.