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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

Youth Force
Social work a natural fit for long-time volunteer

By Valerie Iancovich
Special to The Sun

Marvin Arthur is determined to contribute to the world around him.

Born in Trinidad, Arthur moved to Toronto in his early teens and quickly established himself as a leader and familiar face in his west-end neighborhood, volunteering his time on the local basketball courts and at summer-camp programs. Arthur extended himself further, volunteering at a community centre in the Jane and Finch neighbourhood until the late 1990s.
Centennial College graduate Marvin Arthur (left) was a youth volunteer for years in his residential community before he decided to make social work a career goal. Now he works for the Children's Aid Society of Toronto.

He chose Centennial College's Social Service Worker program because it was "a natural and logical choice."

Skills and direction

The program taught him not only the practical skills needed in his career today, but gave him early direction toward the area of social work most suited to his own interests and passions.

His extensive record of volunteer work in the community made him a shoo-in for Centennial's program. While volunteerism is not a mandatory entrance requirement, it's recommended that applicants demonstrate an interest in community service. He joined the program in 1999.

Today, Arthur works at the Children's Aid Society in Toronto -- the same place he chose to work during his program's field placement.

Arthur admits social work can be demanding, but is thankful that he followed his instincts to attend Centennial initially. Those same instincts later motivated him to earn a degree at Ryerson University. Today, he's pushing himself to complete a Master's degree at York University.

He credits the field placement experience acquired through his Centennial program for shaping his career path. "My practical experience and knowledge gained from my field placement prepared me with the skills to work in child welfare," he says.

Arthur hopes other young people will follow his path and encourages prospective students to "keep believing in their dreams." Despite any systematic obstacles the field presents, Arthur feels more than compensated when he sees the appreciative smiles of the children that he helps through -- The Children's Aid Society.
  • Centennial's Social Service Worker program is two years in length and is open to high school graduates as well as mature students.
  • Classroom instruction is combined with work experience in year two; students spend a few days each week working with clients under supervision.
  • Graduates work for agencies such as welfare services, community centres, group homes, treatment centres, shelters, home for the aged and crisis service centres.
  • For more information, visit

  • Arthur recalls on a daily basis one of the most important lessons he learned in his Centennial program prior to graduating in 2001. "Everyone has a voice and deserves to be heard," he says of his clients, regardless of their age.

    He cites his balanced and spiritually grounded lifestyle for much of his success thus far. Among other things, he exercises regularly and attends church weekly. Arthur is continually inspired by his fond memories of the people and leadership he experienced at Centennial, as well as his wife of nine years and his young son, Mekhi.

    Arthur dreams of one day earning his Ph.D., and wants to continue the tradition of inspiring young people in the same way he says Centennial professor Ann Martens did for him back in his college days. Given his determination and progress so far, his capacity for motivating success in others seems almost limitless.

    -- Valerie Iancovich is a student in Centennial College's Online Writing and Information Design graduate certificate program.

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