our students and alumni

Victoria Rader, MSW '17

Victoria Rader and her dog.
“The majority of clients I see have significant trauma histories and I think being trauma informed is imperative in this line of work. ”

Victoria Rader never imagined she would one day become a social worker. In fact, when she graduated high school she was going to attend UB for accounting. Instead, life got in the way “I couldn’t afford to go to college right away. I didn’t know anything about student loans and neither did my parents. I came to UB for my orientation and a few days later I had to un-enroll and I just started working full time.”

Eventually Rader managed to make it to Erie Community College where she met “a really influential and brilliant professor who went to SUNY Fredonia. I visited the campus and fell in love.” Rader proceeded to major in English until it came time to determine a minor. “I took a Women’s Studies class at random because it was the only thing that sounded remotely interesting and it was like the world clicked into place for me.” Upon graduation, Rader still didn’t know quite what direction her life was headed in. “I remember interviewing for a job at an insurance company, and I was really shy and awkward, and my answer for almost every question was ‘I want to be able to help people’ which, as you can imagine, is not really something insurance companies exist to do.”

Rader began working at Lake Shore Behavioral Health where things were still a bit rocky. She says, “I really struggled in the beginning because I felt like everyone was just being difficult. It wasn’t until Sue Green came in and did a Trauma-Informed Care training that my whole attitude shifted and I began to relate to the clients differently.” She began talking with the social workers at Lake Shore “and again, it was like my whole world clicked into place and life made sense again.” Rader immediately applied to the UBSSW. “I immediately knew that this was where my life was going to go.”

Rader is currently interning at Lake Shore in their mental health program, performing clinical work and running various groups. “I love it, I can’t see myself doing anything else,” she says, “I feel so lucky that I get to make a career out of helping people. I wish I knew I could do this ten years ago.” She continues, “I really like trauma for some reason. The majority of clients I see have significant trauma histories and I think being trauma informed is imperative in this line of work. For me, trauma informed care just makes sense. I love reading about how the mind and body react to trauma and how different trauma-specific treatments can help people heal. The brain is really fascinating.”

When asked about her post-graduation plans Rader says, “I’d like to start out at a non-profit and eventually open my own practice that specialized in animal therapy. I used to joke about having an office cat at my jobs, but I really think it would be therapeutic for clinicians and clients alike. I know not everyone likes animals, but for those of us that do they can change our day. I go home to my dog and cats at the end of the day and I immediately feel less stressed.”