After graduating in 2015 with a degree in social work, Karly Raklovits attended Western Michigan University where she received her master’s degree in social work in 2018. While she worked on her master’s in social work, Karly held a role as a foster home license specialist for Bethany Christian Services. In 2018, she took a role as a therapist at Bronson Battle Creek, Sexual Assault Services. Karly is very involved in her community as she has served at the Jericho Foundation as a breakout session speaker and as a board member at Edison Chapel. Karly says what she appreciates most about Hope is “the personal investment in students by exceptionally caring staff and faculty. I felt seen and cared for as a whole person, not just as a student, during my time at Hope.” Karly models advocating for others as she works to bring justice and hope into the world.

What was an impactful experience you had as a Hope student?
The Hope College social work department connected me with a wonderful internship opportunity that set me on the trajectory for my career.

To you, what makes Hope special?
The personal investment in students by exceptionally caring staff and faculty. I felt seen and cared for as a whole person, not just as a student, during my time at Hope.

What is your current job title?
I am a therapist at Sexual Assault Services, a grant-funded* department of Bronson Battle Creek Hospital. I provide individual and group therapy for children, teen and adult survivors of sexual abuse and sexual assault. I also provide court and systems advocacy for survivors and their families.
*All services are completely free for survivors and their families.

What do you love about your chosen career?
There is so much I love about what I get to do. I love that I get to create a safe context for healing within the therapeutic relationship. I love getting to apply evidence-based treatment methods and interventions that alleviate post-traumatic stress symptoms and promote healing. I am passionate about empowerment of survivors, and I love witnessing them reclaim their voices and their power, breaking through the pervasive shame, secrecy and silence that surrounds sexual abuse. I am grateful to be able to mitigate the stress of the court system by accompanying clients through the court process and advocating for their needs alongside them. I love facilitating group therapy where brave stories are told, and feelings of loneliness and shame lessen through supportive connection.

What advice would you give to a current Hope student?
College students are given lots of advice and opinions about what they “should” do, and I would instead encourage that each person practice listening to their body and their inner wisdom. Many things can trigger a disconnect from the body including trauma, high stress, chronic busyness, comparison and distraction. Practicing gentle awareness of your body, getting curious about the sensations, engaging in grounding practices that help you attune to the present, and allowing yourself to be with your emotions—to validate and feel them—can help cultivate the ability to reconnect with and listen to your body’s wisdom. A therapist can be a wonderful resource to help facilitate this process but know that your first therapist may not be the right fit and that’s normal and okay. Try another therapist if you’re able! In the words of a psychologist I admire, “If you’re willing to pay attention to and dialogue with what’s happening inside of you, you’ll find that your body already knows the answers about how to live a full, present, connected, and healthy life.” – Hillary L. McBride, Ph.D.

What is a relationship that started at Hope that remains in your life today?
I have many dear friends from Hope whom I remain very close to today! They weren’t kidding when they said you will make “lifelong friends” at Hope. We have stood in each other’s weddings, traveled together, loved on each other’s kids, celebrated each other’s accomplishments, and been present for each other in times of joy and of pain. A couple of us enjoyed living near each other in college so much that we bought houses within a couple blocks of each other.

Hope College is proud to honor Karly Raklovits ’15 with the 2023 10 Under 10 Award. The 10 Under 10 Award honors emerging leaders who are making significant contributions by living out their callings; engaging in the local and global community through professional and/or volunteer involvement; and using their education to think about important issues with wisdom and clarity. Award recipients also communicate effectively to bridge boundaries that divide human communities and act as agents of hope living faithfully into their vocations. Designed for alumni who are within 10 years of graduation, these awards are presented by the Hope College Alumni Association. Make a nomination today.

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