giving back to
Rachel Bobren ’04
came to Winona State Univesity,
she never imagined she’d travel to four countries in
I had no interest in study abroad,” says the Schaumburg, Illinois,
native, “until I saw pictures from a friend’s trip and thought, ‘I want
to travel, too.’”
Travel she has. Bobren toured New Zealand, Australia, and Fiji
through WSU’s Pacific Challenge course. She also studied social
welfare in Bangladesh with six other students and Ruth Charles and
Cathy Faruque, professors with whom she still connects.
Touring Bangladesh schools and neighborhoods, Bobren found
herself face-to-face with real poverty. “When you’re in a situation
like that, all your senses are overwhelmed by your experience. That’s
what I appreciate about being in places that are so different.”
Maybe that’s why she volunteered as a social worker at an Alabama
homeless shelter for a year after her graduation. Or why she served
children in Nicaragua. Or why she spent two summers teaching
English at an international peace camp in China.
You learn about yourself when you stretch beyond your comfort
zone,” she says.
When pursuing her master of social work degree from the University
of Illinois at Chicago, Bobren realized Winona State had instilled a
strong education and inspired confidence to strive for lofty goals.
After interning in Chicago, she landed her dream job as the social
worker for nearby Schaumburg Public Schools – a suburban district
with students representing 77 countries.
To help children develop positive identities and learn about one
another, she launched Multicultural Week, inviting students, families,
and community members to talk about their cultures, share food
from their countries, and display artifacts from their homelands.
Festivities have improved awareness at her school and allowed
Bobren to connect her passion for different cultures with her
pursuit to help others.
I’ve wanted to be a school social worker since I was fifteen, and
I’m grateful Winona State helped make that possible,” she says.
Now I’m always trying to improve. I’m still volunteering, exploring
new places, and giving back to the world.”
A world she knows first-hand because Winona State challenged her
to explore it.
Rachel Bobren ’04
By Shari Kiple