Welcome. We are students in Communications 218, a journalism class at Lehman College. Our classroom is in Room 122. This course is part of the Summer Arts Festival of College Now, a program designed to help high school students earn college credits. Every day, we report and write articles about our program, the school and the neighborhood.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Sherwood McPhaul- Future Lifesaver


By: Alberto Aquino and Prabjot Kaur

“I quit my job,” said Sherwood McPhaul, a student majoring in social work at Lehman College. “That’s how much I believe in it.”

McPhaul is a 39-year-old who moved back to the city from Suffolk County, Long Island, to pursue his aspirations of becoming a clinical therapist, serving those who abuse chemical substances and suffer from various mental illnesses. Going back to school “so late in life,” as he puts it, McPhaul found his age to be his biggest obstacle. To fulfill his dreams, he quit his job as a clinical case manager for HIV/AIDS and reentered the academic world. He is majoring in social work and expects to get his master’s degree in that field, “with God as my mentor.”

“I have an altruistic personality,” said McPhaul. “I can’t change the world, but I would just like to possibly help somebody see that there is light; to be able to see a future with hope.” McPhaul believes that medication is not the only solution in helping those who suffer from different psychiatric disorders. Instead, he believes when the medications lose their effect, patients experience loneliness and depression and can only be cured if they find someone to talk to. McPhaul wants to be that person.

His first step in becoming an ear for the depressed was to learn all that he could about psychiatry and social work. Because, as he said, he heard such good things about the social work program at Lehman College, he moved back to the city to attend it. “Right now, I would like to hopefully find a mentor and go to him and be humble, and have some humility, and hope to learn as much as I can learn in order to become an effective therapist,” said McPhaul.

McPhaul has seen the effects of mental illness and substance abuse first hand in his own family, and knows the damage it can do. “America has had a love affair with drugs for a very long time,” he said. “This love affair has gotten to a point where it has blown to astronomical proportions.” “This epidemic,” as he put it, can only end one person at a time. McPhaul’s main objective at this point is to learn as much as he can about the field of social work so that he can reach people through his words and practice.

“It took a lot of soul searching,” said McPhaul. “It took a lot of prayer, and not only prayer, but meditation. You pray for an answer; you meditate to hear it.”

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