Ghazala Chughtai has perfected the art of time management. She works full-time as a case manager at Villa Maria, attends classes in pursuit of her second Master’s Degree in Social Work, works an internship, volunteers with multiple community organizations and is a mother to her five-year-old daughter. And she does it all with enthusiasm and a smile.
Ghazala, who moved to Baltimore from Pakistan with her parents and three siblings in 2001, has worked at Villa Maria for 18 months during which time she was promoted twice. Currently, she is the case manager for five families in the Voluntary Placement Agreement program (VPA) which diverts children ages 8 to 14 from out-of-home placements.
“My job is to keep the family together in their home. To do that, I first make sure they are comfortable with me and with the goals of the program. They know they can reach me any time, 24/7. I have great relationships with my families and the providers and that really makes a difference in helping everyone work together,” she says.
Ghazala also recently became the case manager for the Psychiatric Rehab Program (PRP) which works with children ages 3 to 5 in a partnership with Project ACT. She works with the children who are in need of assistance developing social skills and who have discipline challenges. Ghazala meets with the children once a week at three different childcare centers in the area to address their developmental issues and help them get on the right track.
“Her dedication to the job is commendable. Ghazala is amazing and the enthusiasm she shares for the families she works with is so genuine. She is very busy and her energy is contagious,” says Suzie Fisch, program supervisor for the Department of Community Resources.
Through the Master’s program at the University of Maryland, Ghazala is interning with International Social Service (ISS), a nonprofit international social work agency that provides services to children, families and adults who encounter sociolegal problems around the world. Ghazala is the case manager for 10 families and works as a research and training intern on issues affecting children separated from their families across international borders, and to legal and social service providers working with these children.
On December 4, 2008, Ghazala was one of fourteen speakers selected to address President Obama’s Transition Team at a town hall Meeting in Washington DC. She spoke on immigration and healthcare, two topics she views extremely important.
When she isn’t working, studying, volunteering or preparing a speech, Ghazala spends every free moment with her daughter. And she hopes that her husband, whom she hasn’t seen in 4 years, receives approval soon from Immigration to come to the United States so they can all be together, the same goal she has for the families she works with.