Frankline B.  Tshombe ’20, ’22 MA-MFT  Headshot

Frankline B. Tshombe ’20, ’22 MA-MFT

Kinship Specialist

Families First Counseling

Putting Families and Communities First

For Frankline B. Tshombe ’20, ’22 MA-MFT, Mount Mercy was the missing variable in what she thought was the perfect equation: A helping profession + Mount Mercy = Nursing.

However, Frankline soon found out that the path to helping others was far less cut and dry.

“I didn’t do well in the science classes needed to get into the nursing program,” said Frankline. “Science just wasn’t my thing, and I had to come to terms with that. I still wanted to help people.”

After talking with her advisor, Frankline was made aware of the social work program and the social services field. Frankline took her first course in social work and felt an immediate sigh of relief—this was it.  

“Nursing didn’t work out for me, but I still had a heart for people and wanted to help people,” said Frankline.

“It was an eye-opening moment for me. There are so many ways to help people, and social work was my path to do that. Everything happened exactly how it was supposed to happen.”

It was an eye-opening moment for me. There are so many ways to help people, and social work was my path to do that.

Frankline Tshombe '20, '22 MA-MFT
Kinship Specialist, Families First Counseling

As part of Mount Mercy’s social work curriculum, Frankline interviewed and was placed at Families First Counseling to complete her internship hours—her first choice.

On her first day of her internship, Frankline accompanied her supervisor, MMU alum Hanna (Light) Hofmeister ’13, to drug treatment court at the Linn County Juvenile Justice Center, where support is given to parents who have had their children removed from their care.

“I always told myself I would never do child welfare—I’ve heard too many stories,” said Frankline. “But on that first day, I heard so many emotional stories and, in that moment, I knew that this is what I wanted to do. It changed the trajectory of my career and definitely my life.”

“Since I had my foot in the door there and had established connections because of my internship, I was offered the position.”

When a full-time position at Families First Counseling opened up, Frankline was initially hesitant to apply, but her hard work and commitment were recognized.  

“I was worried I wouldn’t get the position because the job description a­­­sked for some years of experience,” she said. “Since I had my foot in the door there and had established connections because of my internship, I was offered the position.”

Now working as a full-time kinship specialist, Frankline meets directly with family members who are taking care of children who have been removed from the home of a family member.

“In the child welfare system, when a child is removed, they are either placed in foster care or a kinship family placement. A kinship caregiver is a grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle, or anyone close to the child,” said Frankline. “It’s a lot when you take in a child who’s not yours, even if they’re family, so I am their emotional support and can provide them with tangible things too.”

With a job as emotionally straining as Frankline’s, it’s important that she prioritizes her own emotional and mental health.

“It’s a lot to take in,” said Frankline. “You’re listening to these raw, heavy stories every day. It’s important for me to make strict boundaries and separate my work life from my personal life.”

 

On top of her full-time job and making time for herself, Frankline is also enrolled in Mount Mercy’s Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy (MA-MFT) program to further her options in the social work and mental health fields.

“The plan was to work for a while and then enroll, but I saw their table at an event on campus and applied, then I got accepted, then it just went from there,” said Frankline. “It just happened so quickly.”

With her MA-MFT, Frankline wants to be a mental health advocate for kids.

“I want to holistically focus on mental health in the Black and African communities,” said Frankline. “My MA-MFT isn’t just for me—it’s for my people, my community, and those who never got access to therapy or haven’t dealt with their traumas.”

My MA-MFT isn’t just for me—it’s for my people, my community, and those that never got access to therapy or haven’t dealt with their traumas.

Frankline Tshombe '20, '22 MA-MFT
Kinship Specialist, Families First Counseling

Frankline attributes her selfless and humble attitude to her family’s belief in the role education plays in bettering the world around them. After emigrating from South Africa in 2013, Frankline’s mom is a translator for the schools and hospitals while her dad works as an electrical engineer and graduated from Iowa State University. Frankline’s uncle, Hilaire Tshombe ’20, is also a graduate of MMU and works at the Catherine McAuley Center. 

“Education in my family is huge,” said Frankline. “We use our education to better our lives, but also the lives of others—it’s not just for us. We want to help our community here and back home.”

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