By Matt Gergyek
Photos by Chris Roussakis

Katie Mumford, a graduate of Carleton University’s Bachelor of Social Work program who is continuing on as a Raven to pursue her Master of Social Work, admits she has lived through some difficult experiences in her life.

“I’ve had many encounters with challenges related to mental health, substance use, domestic violence and poverty,” says Mumford.

Thankfully, Mumford managed to push through those difficult times with help from her loved ones, but she recognizes that other people in similar situations do not have the support systems they deserve and need.

Katie Mumford

Katie Mumford

“All of my past experiences make me super passionate about the work I do and make me feel really fortunate and privileged to be where I am,” Mumford says. “That’s what social work means to me.”

The passion for social work came early for Mumford. She recalls an early but vivid memory of volunteering at a community kitchen with her mother when she was growing up.

“As a kid, I didn’t realize the population that I was volunteering with was likely experiencing houselessness or poverty or mental illness, but I wanted to help,” says Mumford.

“That community kitchen was such a safe and warm environment and that is definitely something I carry with me into my work now. It’s where my path to social work began.”

Mumford originally began her post-secondary education at Algonquin College in the social service worker program but says that, as a mature student, she was unsure of her path and didn’t think university was for her. But when she thrived in her Algonquin program, it encouraged her to pursue further studies.

Carleton was an easy choice for Mumford since she grew up in Ottawa and both her parents studied at the university. Mumford says her diploma helped introduce the hands-on skills she uses in the field, but credits Carleton for helping her understand the structural, societal issues that can marginalize and oppress at-risk populations.

Mumford was able to find a community of like-minded students on campus. She worked as an executive with the Bachelor of Social Work Student Society and became a student representative on the departmental board.

Katie Mumford

“I am thankful to those who continue to support me, including my partner, my family, the girls and my boys and, of course, my dog too.” – Katie Mumford

Mumford also worked in Carleton’s Students as Partners Program, where students are paired with faculty to help shape course content and engage with student feedback, city the experience as good preparation for her current teaching assistant role.

While balancing her time as a graduate student, Mumford has been working as a drug and alcohol counsellor at Serenity House, an Ottawa substance use residential treatment centre for men.

“Seeing the transformation when the men come into the centre to when they leave, I don’t think there is anything more beautiful in this world,” says Mumford. “Their strength is incredible.”

Mumford is in the clinical stream of the Master of Social Work program and says she is looking forward to continuing in the field, while also digging into research and policy work—especially around reforming the child welfare system.

“I really found my voice, confidence, and strength at Carleton,” says Mumford.

“I think about all the people I couldn’t help in my past life, and my time at Carleton has really guided me to a career where I can give back as much as possible—I just feel really lucky.