For Briana Sowers, a College of Social Work student, it came in the form of supportive and empowering faculty and staff.
“Every professor has been great, I’ve never met a faculty or staff member I haven’t liked,” Sowers said.
Early on, Sowers knew she had found her place with a dedicated group of faculty and staff committed to student success. Initially a psychology major, Sowers decided after a few courses that she wanted to help others, just not in a therapy setting.
“I was having a crisis when I was thinking about not wanting to be in psychology, and I used a major locator where you put in your interests, and it pops out majors based on that. Social work was one of those,” Sowers said. “After reading the program, I thought it just made sense to me that that is what I was meant to do.”
Unfortunately, Sowers had missed the deadline to apply for the program. However, she messaged Dr. Kalea Benner, Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs, who allowed her to take a few introductory courses.
Dr. Benner was only the first of faces Sowers would meet that made a difference in her college experience.
Before entering the program, Sowers became a student ambassador for the College of Social Work. It was there she met Lindsey Ferguson, director of recruitment.
Traveling around the state, Sowers was able to introduce potential students to the wonders and opportunities that the CoSW provides.
“Lyndsey was so amazing,” Sowers said. “She just made everything so much more fun.”
Biermann, who was given the Class of 2019 Faculty Special Recognition award, intimidated Sowers at first.
“At first, she is a little intimidating, seeing such a really strong, confident, woman teaching. But you see through her teaching how confident she is in us,” Sowers said. “She’s so receptive to what we tell her, she’s very personable, and you don’t always see that. She doesn’t play favorites, and she’s always fair. She’s exactly the type of person I want to be, the type teacher of I want to be, and the type of social worker I want to be.”
Now, Biermann holds a special place in Sowers’ life as her mentor and someone who, like the many others she has met along the way, will always be in her corner.
In addition to her studies, Sowers has participated in many programs and extracurriculars. Last year, while many spent spring break at the beach, Sowers spent hers in Ashland, volunteering at Safe Harbor, an emergency shelter and advocacy center. Additionally, Sowers was a member turned facilitator in the Empowering Women’s Leadership Program. And she recently went early alumni in her sorority Kappa Beta Gamma.
Once Sowers receives her diploma, her journey into higher education won’t stop there. She’s already applied to several master’s programs, including one in her home state of Texas. Sowers hopes to work in administrative policy, grant administration, or being an executive director of a shelter program. Any option is possible, she said, since her time at the CoSW has prepared her for anything that will come her way.
“After these three and a half years, I feel confident in the person I am. I know, without a doubt, social work is for me,” Sowers said. “I know I’m going to be secure in my future. Social work keeps you on your toes and I feel prepared, and ready, to get on my feet.”