When it comes to what Jennifer Horn is most enthusiastic about as a social worker, she answers without hesitation.
“My passion is 100% older adults,” the 2020 Newman University Master of Social Work graduate said. “I have always had a desire and special pull toward the older population. I find they are full of wisdom and can provide different perspectives when discussing various issues.”
Horn focuses her attention on working in Black, Brown and low-income communities, “working on ensuring we discuss this population always,” she said.
“I tend to never shut up about these issues, but I believe that is what my calling is in life: to be vocal and speak up against injustice and inequities.”
Today, all these passions play out in her job at the Pikes Peak Area Agency on Aging — Family Caregiver Support Center, the same organization where she had her field placement as a Newman student.
There, Horn works with legislators to discuss issues with homeowners associations and older adults, and the problems with some property management companies exploiting older adults and selling their homes from under them.
Rising to the social work call
Horn’s path into the field of social work was quite unexpected. The Navy veteran initially thought she’d go into school for nursing while she was on active duty but eventually changed her degree to psychology and graduated from Colorado State University-Pueblo in 2017.
“I was misinformed initially and had this belief social workers are only dealing with children, and I do not want to do that; and it turns out I do not have to,” said Horn, about pursuing a MSW degree and career. “I love my work, my community and how I am able to be an advocate and speak out. I am very happy I ended up in social work, and I am beyond thrilled I was proven wrong about my initial and misguided judgments. Social work is probably the most versatile degree a person can get, especially if your desire is to help advance equity and social justice.”
Ultimately, Horn is grateful she received her graduate degree from Newman.
“I feel I was in the right place at the right time and that the program focus on trauma was ideal for the current climate we all are facing,” she said.
Leaving her mark and transforming society
Horn has accomplished a great deal in the couple years since graduating from Newman.
Recently, she was recognized for her work when she received the 2022 DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) Champions in Advocacy award presented by the Colorado Springs Business Journal. She also volunteers with Spark the Change Colorado and launched an educational/support group in Pueblo, Colorado.
Moreover, Horn completed a 20-week leadership program with the American Society on Aging as a RISE Fellow, which focuses on individuals who are Black, Indigenous and people of color working in the field of aging.
While in the ASA RISE program, Horn was matched with her mentor Mary Anne Adams, founder and executive director of ZAMI NOBLA (National Organization of Black Lesbians on Aging). Now, Horn is a board member and part of its research team. She also presented at the On Aging conference in 2022 in New Orleans, discussing intergenerational programs for older LGBT adults and LGBTQIA+ youth.
“With all of these, I have found that Newman and the instructors were foundational in where I am today,” Horn said. “Had I not had the support, guidance, knowledge and challenges faced during my time, I doubt I would be this vocal and ambitious.”
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