Tara Collins Headshot
Tara Collins, Master of Social Work Student at IUPUI

Master of Social Work student Tara Collins is putting her social work education to practice as an intern with EMBRACE, an Eskenazi Health program that supports newly diagnosed cancer patients.

At the start of Tara’s internship in August, the program’s eight-person staff was reduced to two people because of funding cuts during COVID-19. Deanna Wesley, director of the EMBRACE program, said Tara provided much-needed support in a stressful time.

“Tara is someone who is just made for this field,” she said. “With everything going on with covid, she’s been able to jump right in and go with the flow.”

As part of the EMBRACE team, Tara connects underserved cancer patients to the resources they need. A lack of food, housing, and transportation often prevents cancer patients from receiving proper treatment. Tara works to eliminate those barriers.

Her other responsibilities include introducing patients to the EMBRACE program, checking in on them before or after appointments, and performing screenings to determine their financial aid eligibility.

Tara said she felt drawn to EMBRACE because of her family’s background with cancer. Her father passed away from cancer when she was a child, and the experience made her want to help others going through the same trial.

“It’s been interesting to see how the journey is different for different people,” she said. “It’s been a positive experience and one that has helped me grow as well.”

Before working at Eskenazi, Tara worked for five years at the Excel Center, a tuition-free high school for adults on the west side of Indianapolis. Her role as a life coach inspired her to pursue a master’s in social work at the IUPUI campus.

Tara plans to complete a second practicum at a school, and she hopes to work in either a school or medical setting after she graduates in May.

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“I’m someone who likes to always be learning in the job I’m doing and continuously find new things to do,” she said. “I’m very excited about graduating and being able to move onto that master’s in social work role.”