Class VII (2009-2010)

7. Jeneice Olsen

Sponsor Club: Minneapolis South, USA, District 5950


Jeniece was born and partially raised in Salt Lake City, Utah with “the greatest snow on Earth”. In place of becoming a talented or even average skier, she buried her nose in her books and pursued a BA in Psychology. Shortly after graduation, she began working in Salt Lake City’s largest homeless shelter, where she spent five years assisting families and individuals as they transitioned from homelessness into housing. While studying for a Masters in Social Work, Jeniece spent a year providing therapy for perpetrators and victims of domestic violence, as well as individuals struggling with substance abuse. The following year, she spent several months working for the Kagisano Society Women’s Shelter Project in Gaborone, Botswana.

After returning home, Jeniece took a position as Services Coordinator for a new $9 million housing complex, designed to permanently house individuals who were chronically homeless. She coordinated with partner agencies to take 84 individuals off the streets and offer each one a fully furnished apartment. During this time, she also received her license to practice clinical social work; she is trained in the areas of substance abuse/dependence, gender-based and domestic violence, mental health, harm reduction, motivational interviewing and trauma treatment.

In July of last year, Jeniece began volunteering for The Romero Centre, a nonprofit organization in Brisbane that serves and supports refugees from Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan who have escaped to Australia by boat. Her volunteer work subsequently led to an applied field experience, which is still ongoing. She has had the privilege of working on the narrative project A Smile In Tears. This project is an effort to gather stories of success from former refugees and creatively document the skills and knowledge they have used while making a new home in Australia. These stories and documents will be used as educational tools for newer refugee communities, the general Australian public and, hopefully, relevant political leaders. Presently, Jeniece’s interest lies in combining her professional background in social work with her current degree in International Relations. She hopes to continue working with refugee populations, both abroad and in her home country.