Angela Boswell knows what it means to train hard. A former Pearl iZUMi triathlon team member, she conquered the triad of athletics – swimming, running, biking - by overcoming her fear of water, teaching herself to power walk, and building endurance. Boswell became an ambassador for GOTribal, an organization that helps prepare women to participate in triathlon competitions.
“It all comes down to building your confidence in success. I believe that the time that you cross the finish line is much less important than the fact that you complete the course.”
Determined to return to school thirteen years after earning a bachelor’s degree in English language and literature, she enrolled in a Master’s of Social Work program through UNH Online. Despite the elusive challenge of balancing life’s trio of commitments - home, work, school – she stayed the course through family trauma, personal health concerns, and the effects of a pandemic to graduate from UNH in May 2021.
Previously, Boswell was a recruiter for CASY, a nonprofit organization that provides a resource for military-affiliated job seekers looking to attain a rewarding career as they transition back to civilian life. She also worked as a federal investigator, interviewing job candidates to assess their suitability for high-security clearance positions. These job experiences gave Angie an eye-opening exposure to social justice issues, forging connections with people from all walks of life on a deeply personal level that sowed the seeds of a future interest in social work.
Despite her plans to earn a master’s degree, Angie discovered to her frustration that most schools were unwilling to accept her as a student after such a long hiatus from higher education. Responsive to her passionate desire to enter the field and determination to succeed, however, the Social Work Department at UNH admitted her to their program. The letters of a giant graduation celebration balloon in the shape of the letters “U-N-H” hang overhead as Angie muses on her recent education experience.
“The fact that the courses were 100% online and my field internships were established locally made it possible for me to attend school while I was working. I felt an immediate connection with my student cohort and the faculty was always accessible. Program Director Trish Cox mentored me throughout the program, providing invaluable support during some tough times at home. I tell all my friends and colleagues about the UNH Online MSW program because they know how to make to create a program suitable for working professionals.”
As a girl, Boswell spent many happy hours with her Louisiana grandparents, enjoying a valued communication and appreciation for the senior community. Bolstered by these memories, she was drawn to a field internship in hospice care during her social work studies.
“To start a conversation, I tried to find something personal in their environment that might have a story behind it. This human touch can open the door to a connection that encourages people to talk. Because of my family’s military background, I especially enjoy working with senior veterans, and the fact that my husband is a retired Marine allows me to better understand their struggles.”
Angie’s passion for her work is evident as she describes a 91-year-old patient who felt as though her continued existence was a waste of space. To provide support, Boswell listened to unfolding stories of abuse, neglect, and suicide as she helped her patient find some ease with these devastating memories. During their last session together, the woman told her, “for the first time in my life I think things through before going down the rabbit hole of depression”.
Boswell recently accepted a position as a social worker in the surgery unit of St. Charles Medical Center in Oregon. She firmly believes that seniors need a trio of care - medical, emotional, spiritual - to holistically service their needs, and explores the cultural and religious background of each patient to respect their personal boundaries. In anticipation of an upcoming move to the oncology ward, Boswell is eagerly collaborating with colleagues to develop programs that will serve central Oregon’s rural population who have minimal access to services.
With a smile of satisfaction about the work commitment behind her and excitement about the new career ahead of her, Angie looks forward to a renewal of self-discovery. Time with family is the first priority but she also looks forward to renewing the bond with her beloved horse (my “Big Person”) with whom trust is built on quiet communication.
The triad of Angie’s strength - determination, dedication, hard work - reflects the “fierce confidence” she wishes every woman to enjoy, whether she is racing in a triathlon or conquering her dreams.
As Angie says from personal experience, “If you know what you want and are determined to succeed, nothing can stop you.
Written by Gwendolyn Goguelet