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Your Life Calling

Turning Heartache Into Hope Live Chat

If you missed the chat with Jane and her guests Sylvia Abrego-Araiza and Tracy Whitaker, you can catch the conversation here.

Pauley: Susan, after Sylvia left high school where she had been identified as a very promising candidate for the field of nursing, she went on to a variety of jobs over the years prior to going back to college in social work.

And it seemed to me that virtually every job she had involved helping people, including, most literally, a job in retail where she might have said “may I help you” dozens of times a day. Being a person who found meaning and satisfaction in helping people is probably the strongest thread in Sylvia’s life. Look for your thread.

As a final thought – during the interview with Sylvia, talking about how she had a job in hand before she’d even finished her degree, I made the observation that drug abuse counseling might be a “growth industry” in her southwest Texas community. I imagine that it would be possible to identify unique areas of need in every community.

I salute anyone who chooses the field of social work. It reminds me of a woman who I saw win an award she clearly hadn’t expected to win. Her specialty was working with mental illness in the criminal justice arena – tough work. Her remarks were unprepared, needless to say, and I’ll never forget what she said: “Well, I guess I’d just like to thank the clients for giving meaning to my life.”

Well, it looks like we've blown past the closing time for our chat! Thank you so much for participating in this chat as a part of our “Your Life Calling” series on the TODAY Show and here on

Abrego-Araiza: I’d like to thank everyone for participating in this web chat session and hope that it has been informative, positive and encouraging. Social work is a helping profession that is in need of people willing to make a difference by improving the lives of others; that in and of itself is very rewarding. I encourage you to do some volunteer work in your local community and if you are interested in a social work career, contact your local college or university. For more information in the Rio Grande Valley, you can call South Texas College at (956) 872-8311 or the University of Texas Pan American at (956) 665-2999 and to become a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor you can call the Texas Department of State Health Services at (866) 378-8440.

If I can be of further assistance, feel free to email me at Be blessed.

Whitaker: It was a pleasure speaking with you about social work today. Social work is a great profession that can be rewarding on many levels. A social work degree is very versatile, and prepares social workers to work with individuals, families, groups, communities, organizations and systems. If you’re thinking about a career in social work, the National Association of Social Workers has wonderful resources that will help you start and flourish in this profession. Please visit our web site at Thank you.

Pauley: Sylvia and Tracy – thanks for being with us! I hope you enjoyed the conversation as much as I did.

We’ll be back on the Today Show February 15, when I’ll be bringing you another great story about someone who is hearing their life calling in a new and different way.

Stay tuned to for more resources and inspiring stories on reinvention.

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