It’s never too late  

Empowering and empathetic are two words Mary Kilcullen, December graduate in social work, uses to describe the Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center. Read more as she shares her hands-on learning experience. 

Mary Kilcullen smiling and talking with students at the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center’s Rise & Grind breakfast. 
Mary Kilcullen smiling and talking with students at the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center’s Rise & Grind breakfast.

St. Louis native Mary Kilcullen was looking for a quality education with a family-oriented atmosphere that offered great financial aid opportunities.  

“In high school, college advisors would come and talk to us about the University of Missouri and the financial assistance offered to Missouri residents,” she said. “It was perfect for me. Also, knowing the quality of education and connections that I would be able to make drew me here.”   

Coming from a big family, Kilcullen found that helping others was second nature for her and influenced her decision to pursue a degree in social work at Mizzou.  

“I’m a very family-oriented person,” she said. “I am an older sister and very much a caretaker and that followed into me finding social work at Mizzou.”   

A dual-faceted experience   

Entering her degree program, she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do. “Social work is broad,” she said. “There are so many populations and so many people who need help.”    

But during her junior year, Kilcullen worked with her advisor to find the perfect place to complete her practicum: the Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center.   

Kilcullen spoke with Katryna Sardis, assistant director of the RSVP Center, and gained an appreciation of the center’s individualized approach and the opportunity to make a difference.  

“It’s the Missouri method,” Kilcullen said. “You learn through experience and you’re not just reading it in a textbook. At the RSVP Center, I’ve experienced not only seeing programming and social justice initiatives across campus and in the community, but also one-on-one client focused work, interventions and resources.”  

A broader picture   

Kilcullen values the hands-on learning opportunities she had at the RSVP Center, which she believes have helped her develop confidence, passion and a “renewed sense of purpose.”  

She has also learned the importance of developing programming that promotes an inclusive campus community.  

“All of the centers, programming, events and education that the Division of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity does is so unique and important,” she said. “Without IDE programming, I really could not imagine what Mizzou would look like.”   

Kilcullen’s involvement has allowed her to see the importance of diversity and inclusion in education. The experience, she said, helps her understand and value individual differences.   

As Kilcullen races to the finish line, she reflects on the theme of “it’s never too late.”   

“Everything clicked for me when I came to the RSVP Center,” she said. “I am in the last semester of my senior year, and I could not be happier and couldn’t feel prouder about the work that I’m doing.”   

After graduation in December, Kilcullen plans to continue her work in bystander intervention and outreach at the RSVP Center while applying to master’s programs in social work.