Student Spotlight – Stephanie Reade, MSW Candidate 2020, Online Program, University of New England

Submitted by Stephanie Reade

1. How did you become interested in pursuing social work?

I have been in healthcare my entire career. In the past 5 years, I have been working in hospice and palliative care. Pursuing an MSW was necessary for me in order to provide my patients and clients with the clinical expertise they deserve. Although I’ve been doing the work prior to pursuing school, the MSW will provide me the credibility as a professional social worker.

2. What area of social work are you most interested in? Why?

I will continue to work in healthcare as I have found Hospice to be fulfilling, challenging, and rewarding. I developed a great love for the work I was fortunate to do during my first placement, working with the homeless population. Even though my concentration is clinical practice, my internship provided me the opportunity to learn on a macro level. During the time of my placement, I implemented a support group for clients who were recently housed after experiencing chronic homelessness. I continue to run the group so I am still connected with the agency. Needless to say, I am very much interested in continuing to work with the homeless population, possibly on a clinical level. As we all know, there is a great demand and need for supportive services and an MSW will allow me the opportunity to join forces to eliminate homelessness.

3. What made you decide to become an NASW member?

The standards and guidelines of the NASW have been an integral part of my academic learning as well as my work. Becoming a member has provided a professional network for me. Being an online student, building networks can sometimes feel challenging. Although I’ve been very fortunate to have a great cohort, the NASW has been a great adjunct to my program, professors, advisors, as well as providing additional resources, support, and guidance.

4. What are your interests outside of social work?

Being a graduate student takes up a lot of my time. Self-care has taken on a new meaning for me. I love spending time with my loved ones, attending sporting events, being outside, and sometimes, just doing nothing! I don’t have a lot of free time anymore so I am trying to be better at structuring a schedule that allows for consistent self-care. I am still trying to master this!

5. What advice would you give to future social work students?

Take advantage of your placement experiences. I was fortunate to spend my first placement at an agency that had multiple programs, including a social enterprise. At the start of my placement, I had a specific role and tasks but I wanted to learn about the other programs. I asked the field instructor for more learning opportunities. My field instructor allowed me the space to learn and allowed me to develop my own limitations. Don’t be afraid to ask to do things that interest you. Don’t be afraid to be challenged. With good supervision, you should feel safe to challenge yourself.  Most importantly, allow yourself to be a student. This means not being afraid to make mistakes. I would also recommend starting a journal either from the start of your program or at the start of your placement. You will be able to measure your growth as you move through the program. Lastly, certainly not least, take care of yourself. Be gentle with yourself. The program is rigorous but it’s a great experience. Remember, the social work profession is one of the few professions that allows you to diversity yourself. It’s OK to be drawn to different areas of social work. Keep your eye on the light at the end of the tunnel!

Submitted by S. Jolene Hui, MSW, LCSW, NASW-CA Director of Membership

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