Meet Maria Bruno ’19, social work, a first-generation college student who transferred to UMBC at The Universities at Shady Grove from Montgomery College. Currently working as a mental health specialist, Maria kept herself busy at UMBC as a peer navigator and the president of the Social Work Club. Thanks for sharing your story, Maria!
Q: What’s one thing you’d like people to know about studying at UMBC at the Universities at Shady Grove?
A: That UMBC truly cares about its students. And that UMBC professors and staff are always supportive.
Q: Why did you decide to study social work?
A: I decided to study social work for a variety of reasons. My passion to help others has been part of me for as long as I can remember. I had a desire to give back to the community. My experiences working with social workers in the past lead me to understand the importance of the social work role. There is much work to do in this field with a variety of areas that can benefit from the social work practice.
I graduated in May of 2022 from University of Maryland, Baltimore with my master’s in social work and plan to further my education next year. Currently, I work with Sheppard Pratt in the School and Community Youth Services Division at Winston Churchill High School as a Mental Health Specialist. I love this position working with adolescents. They are my favorite population to work with and I learn something new every day from them.Maria Bruno ’19, social work, center, celebrates her graduation from UMBC with her children, Eugene Chirikov, Julia Chirikov, and Sofia Chirikov. Photo courtesy of Bruno.
UMBC professors and staff are always supportive.
Maria Bruno ’19, social work
Q: Tell us about someone who has supported you at UMBC.
A: Chelsea Moyer (director of UMBC at the Universities at Shady Grove) has been a mentor and supportive of my journey since day one. And all the professors, including Katie Morris (Ph.D. ’21, language, literacy, and culture) and Chelsea Moyer, have been supportive and helped direct me toward realizing my dreams.Maria Bruno, bottom right, with other students at Shady Grove. (Marlayna Demond ’11/UMBC)
Q: Can you talk about being a first-generation college student, and the support systems you’ve found at USG?
A: I never knew what the importance of being first-generation was until I was at UMBC. All my life I struggled with school. My first language was Sicilian and my parents were unable to help me with homework. Neither of my parents had higher than a sixth grade education. I wish I had as much support in my younger years of school as I did in higher ed. USG has a wealth of support systems that I utilized. The writing department was one of my biggest support systems. English grammar has been difficult for as long as I can remember and having someone to help support me when it came to writing papers was amazing! It would take hours and hours to explain how fortunate I have been to have attended UMBC at USG! I am so grateful for the best experience of my higher education.
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UMBC’s greatest strength is its people. When people meet Retrievers and hear about the passion they bring, the relationships they create, the ways they support each other, and the commitment they have to inclusive excellence, they truly get a sense of our community. That’s what “Meet a Retriever” is all about.