My time in the Messiah College Social Work Department, though brief, prepared me in more ways than I could have ever imagined in terms of my education, vocation, and faith. Messiah College and the faculty within the Social Work Department place great emphasis not only on being ethical, professional, and competent in all one does as a social worker, but also on the life of Jesus Christ and how we ought to follow His example of servitude, humility, and love in all that we do. Messiah College is where my journey began of finding how my values and passions of service and social justice fit with the empowerment and strengths focused lens of the social work profession. It was this great balance and integration of the rigorous coursework and faith development that prepared me to become a social worker.
After graduation from Messiah, I continued my education at the University of Michigan (credited as the #1 School of Social Work in the Nation) to pursue my MSW. My experience at Messiah was integral in getting admitted to this prestigious program, as Messiah upholds its students to the highest standards. Through my BSW placements at a homelessness and housing program and a skilled nursing facility, I was taught a great variety of skills that I was able to practice in and out of the classroom. In my MSW program at a skilled nursing facility and at the Alzheimer’s Association, I was able to have a solid foundation of skills to work from and then was able to work on enhancing and refining those skills. I utilized principles of self-awareness and faith development that I learned at Messiah throughout my MSW program in order to keep seeking God’s will for my life within the social work profession. I graduated with my MSW from the University of Michigan in December 2019 with a concentration in Interpersonal Practice and Aging, with a minor in Management of Human Services, with a Specialist in Aging Certification, and as a Geriatric Scholar. I can look back to my beginnings at Messiah and pinpoint exactly where my skills and passions began for social work, and where God showed me His plan for my life.
Two months before graduating from graduate school, I was hired to be the Director of Social Work at a skilled nursing facility/long-term care facility! Several months later, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the world, and I had to face many practice challenges and ethical dilemmas due to the new restrictions and psychosocial factors that COVID-19 lockdowns impacted, especially in a healthcare setting. The new health regulations, the changing precautions, the increased use of PPE, and the increased isolation my patients were feeling and experiencing, all had a toll on my workplace. Messiah's Social Work Program and Field Experiences, however, taught me to work well through ambiguity, to abide by the Code of Ethics in all I do, and to work well in an interdisciplinary team for the well-being of my patients. This knowledge and experience helped me to navigate and balance social work values, personal needs, patient's needs, and family's needs while seeking supervision from more experienced practitioners. Though being a social worker during COVID has been a challenge, I can say with full confidence that Messiah was integral in how I carry out my work each and every day (especially mid-Pandemic!). I am excited to see where God will lead me next on my social work journey, but for now, am loving my position and the people I work with!