Lilly Moser graduated in 2018 magna cum laude from the National Catholic School of Social Service at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. She completed two internships as part of her undergraduate degree: one at an after school program for low income children where she facilitated a mindfulness meditation group to help give the students a coping mechanism to help manage some of the challenging and stressful situations they were facing. The second was a full year with Isaiah House, which is a day program for adults who suffer from mental illness and substance abuse, where Lilly was a group therapy facilitator and provided case management support for the clients. Upon graduation, Lilly was the recipient of the Mary J. Flynn Award, for demonstrating the highest ethical and academic standards of social work in both the classroom and in field placement.Lilly is currently studying for her Master’s in Social Work at New York University’s Silver School of Social Work. During her graduate studies, she will intern at Services for The Underserved in Brooklyn, NY, as a case manager for adults experiencing severe mental illness and substance addiction.
When did you come to DVFS, and from where?
I came to DVFS in 9th grade from another smaller LD school.
Can you tell us a little bit about your learning difference and struggles in school?
I have a language-based learning difference and a math disability. I also have ADHD. My language-based learning difference is delayed auditory processing. The impact that this had on my education was that I missed details in the information or directions teachers gave in class. I would need these repeated, and it could be distracting and disruptive. At DVFS, I was introduced to the LiveScribe pen - which captures audio in the class while you take notes. This tool helped me capture these details so that I could replay them later and this really helped me manage my learning difference. I used this tool all through college and continue to use it in my graduate studies today.
What changed for you when you came to DV?
I was immediately impressed by the resources available at DVFS -- the technology resources like the laptops and the LiveScribe pen, but also the opportunities to be involved in clubs and extracurricular activities. My old school was kind of a depressing environment, but the students at DV were so hopeful, and that helped me become more confident. I made a strong group of friends almost immediately, and I felt at home. If it hadn’t been for the resources available at DV -- the teachers, technology, clubs, and more -- I would not have developed the sense of confidence and self-worth I have today.
Do you have any special memories from your time at DVFS?
I loved all of my English classes. I particularly remember Tim Simmons, Bill Dawe and Bill Keeney and the books they assigned about people from diverse cultures with different perspectives, and often had characters who were social outsiders. These books opened me up to seeing how people are affected by their different environments and experiences and what it takes to stand up against adversity. They helped to foster my current interests and career path. I was also part of the improv acting group, which I loved, and the DV Singers -- both groups performed at the end of year arts festival, and those experiences also improved my confidence. And I loved just hanging out with my friends.
What do you think the long-term value of a DVFS education has been for you?
None of this could have been possible without DVFS. I am so incredibly thankful to have had the opportunity to attend such an amazing school where I could grow not only as a student but as a person. Academically, I became a good writer. I learned how to structure an essay at DV, and that helped me with my senior thesis, which was about how self-stigma among adults with mental illness results in poor-treatment adherence. It was a significant undertaking, but because of the skills I learned at DV, I was not intimidated. In fact, I was a far better writer than many of my classmates who did not have a learning difference. At DV, I definitely learned the academic skills I needed to succeed in college and beyond. Perhaps a more important legacy of my time at DV is the self-efficacy I developed there. At DV, you are surrounded by people who want you to succeed and who see your potential, which leads you to see that potential in yourself. When you’re diagnosed with a learning difference, it changes your life, and you have to figure out what that new reality means to your identity. Am I more or less of a person because I have a learning difference? With the support I received at Delaware Valley Friends, I came to see my learning difference as a strength, and the confidence and self-acceptance that I gained has been invaluable.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
I remember being in the process of finding the right school for me and learning about DVFS. I lived in New Jersey, and so it was an hour commute each way, depending on traffic. DVFS was a big investment for my family -- of time and financially -- but it was the best decision I could have possibly made for my educational and personal growth. It truly was an investment in my future, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to attend such an incredible school.
Why social work?
I always wanted to help people. The profession of social work focuses on how people are impacted by their environment and not just defined by their problems. We work to meet basic human needs, often of the most oppressed and at risk people in society -- always maintaining their dignity and honoring their inherent worth. The social justice aspect of this work is important to me. The Quaker principles I first encountered at DV and the social workers code of ethics share many of the same values -- equality, integrity -- the belief that we are all worthy of respect and have something to offer each other and the opportunity to grow together. Just like the teachers at DV meet students with learning differences where they are, social workers meet clients where they are and work in partnership and collaboration to come up with solutions to their problems and challenges.