Social Work Transfer
Meet Christina: Found her Passion in Helping People
Christina Daignault graduated from Berkshire Community College in 2013 with a Social Work Transfer Associate's degree. She transferred into the Elms Social Work program taught at Lee High School and eventually graduated with honors with a Master's in Social Work from Springfield College in 2017, and attained her LCSW in 2018. She is the Vice Chair and Co-Development Chair of Multicultural BRIDGE as well as involved with BRIDGE's Race Task Force. Christina is also a member of the NAACP Berkshire County Branch where she serves as the Chair of the Redress Committee and a Commissioner for Berkshire County Commission on the Status of Women.
Early on in her life Christina was removed from her first family (biological) as her first mother struggled with both external and internal forces that left her unable to properly care for her. Christina had a closed adoption into a wonderful family where she grew up on the South Shore. The town she grew up in was 97% white at the time and the home she was raised in was a white household so racial diversity was not something she experienced in her youth. Like many transracial adoptees (an individual adopted by someone of another race) Christina did not know what her race was as a child, and she was reminded by outsiders daily that she was not white with an onslaught of constant microaggressions, this often led to her feeling on the outside, and reminded her of the loss of her first family, culture, and heritage which lead to her longing to understand her roots. "One of the biggest protective factors for children of color is a strong racial identity. This was not an option to me as a child as I did not know my race until I was an adult," she says.
As a child she did not see herself represented anywhere, not in the media, in books, in school etc. "As a child I struggled to navigate racialized incidents because I was taught not to see color and to judge a person based on their character which is a wonderful concept that came out of the civil rights movement but unfortunately, because we do not live in a post racial society, it often leaves BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) children defenseless against racism, prejudice and constant microaggressions. If you don't see color how can you address racism?" She often struggled to understand why she felt upset about certain incidents and often felt on the outside but could not express why. As a child Christina struggled to see herself as an adult and could not picture herself going in any particular direction. Christina explained that she did not have the vocabulary to articulate what she was experiencing or have anyone that could understand.
It was when she enrolled at BCC that she finally found what she was looking for and for the first time in her life she got to express what she was experiencing and found others that listened and validated what she was saying. "Not feeling seen or heard was a big part of the reason that I didn't see myself or my future."
It was her advisor Audrey Ringer that convinced her to apply for the Social Work program at Elms. Audrey played an important role in Christina's academic path. "She was a wonderful lady. Her class about community was what made me realize that that was where my passion is." They found an unexpected kinship, "I thought that BCC was really supportive and the staff was very helpful and passionate about social work. Two of my professors had adopted children themselves. Audrey was one of them and she shared some amazing stories with me."
Christina would not want to go back and do anything different in her life. "My experiences have broadened my perspective and enabled me to understand and help people." She uses those experiences in her work to help those that are struggling in very similar ways she did. It is important to her to help individuals navigate through struggles that are roadblocks to success in life. Christina recalls that as a child "I did not feel I was able to access my education, because it did not feel like a safe nurturing environment where I was seen and heard." It wasn't until she attended BCC that she not only experienced an environment that allowed her to learn and explore her interests but also experience firsthand being seen and heard, which was a catalyst to help her find her voice and eventually to her successful graduation with a 3.9 GPA and a Masters of Education in Social Work.
As a child I struggled to navigate racialized incidents because I was taught not to see color and to judge a person based on their character which is a wonderful concept that came out of the civil rights movement but unfortunately, because we do not live in a post racial society, it often leaves BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) children defenseless against racism, prejudice and constant microaggressions. If you don't see color how can you address racism?