By Susan White
While growing up in Santiago, Chile, Claudio Caceres Araya learned from his own family about the value of giving back to others.
“My grandfather was a politician, and he used to work with people and communities,” Caceres Araya explained. “My father was raised in the church, and he developed this encouragement for helping others, and I always received that message from him.”
Caceres Araya attributes those influences for gently steering him toward a profession in social work. A 2005 graduate of Catholic University in Santiago, Chile, Caceres Araya spent four years as a social worker helping youth and families in the San Miguel community of Santiago. Then, in 2008, after marrying a North Carolina native, Caceres Araya applied to Carolina’s MSW program. He didn’t think too much about being accepted because at the time, he was still learning English and worrying about finances, especially with his wife finishing nursing school at UNC.
Fortunately, he was accepted into the School of Social Work’s Triangle Distance Education program, which allowed him to attend classes part-time and to work. Receiving the School’s Armfield Scholarship in 2011, and the Joanna Finkelstein Gorham Scholarship the following year further eased his family’s financial stress.
“Getting those scholarships helped me to make my dream come true,” said Caceres Araya, who graduates in May and hopes to work within the healthcare field or with a nonprofit serving Latino families.
“At this point in my career, I’m excited because I achieved something that I never thought I would be able to do.”