MARIA PONZI: My name is Maria Rae Ponzi and I am a social worker. I work with young people in a variety of places. I work in the public school settings, private school settings, and juvenile justice centers, and foster care centers.
Working with young people inspires me the most. A lot of times they're coming from environments where it is expected that they are a teen mom, so I'm able to offer a different type of perspective on what their possibilities in life could be.
KATIE HARTMAN: She's changed them. I mean, it's amazing. They want to do better, and they do. I give her a lot of credit for that. I think she's the reason.
MARIA PONZI: Walden's mission of positive social change aligns directly with social work standards. So to be able to have that support not just in the program you're in, but the university itself is remarkable.
KATIE HARTMAN: Once she had that master's degree, you could tell there was more confidence in her, and she was ready to spread her wings even more than she did before.
MARIA PONZI: My MSW degree allowed me to sit for my state licensure board, so I'm now a licensed social worker. The doors that that could open are endless. When I wake up in the morning and I think about my job, I use the mantra, today is going to be a good day, and I'm going to make it good for somebody else.
My why is giving a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves.