LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 1, 2016) — Students at the University of Kentucky College of Social Work are working for Kentucky by working with the Commonwealth's most vulnerable citizens in child protection, hospitals, senior centers, veteran’s programs, mental health centers, foster care, medical clinics, schools, juvenile and adult court programs, domestic violence programs, assisted living and developmental disability programs, and a wide variety of nonprofit and government programs.
In turn, students are provided with learning environments that cultivate leadership, and connect the theoretical and conceptual contribution of the classroom to the realities of practice. Through field education internships they are able to increase knowledge, refine skills, and strengthen professional ethics and values in preparation for professional practice.
“Social work students provided over 131,000 service hours last year to the citizens of Kentucky through undergraduate and graduate internships,” said Pamela Weeks, director of Field Education and clinical associate professor at the College of Social Work. “Field education is an integral part of the social work curriculum at both the undergraduate and graduate level, and all students are required to complete a minimum of two internships under the supervision of practicing social workers.”
Jennifer Garland, a social worker and agency field instructor at the Lexington Senior Center, works with and supervises UK social work students.
“These students are an asset to my work with the senior population. Not only do they keep me on my toes with their questions of how theory applies to our services and best service practices, but they work hand in hand with the seniors of our community. They are kind, caring and generous with their time when it comes to keeping our clients satisfied. In the months that they work with our clients, the social work students that pass through the Lexington Senior Center are able to really touch the hearts of our senior population and help them in whatever way they can. I can only hope that the students get as much learning and life enrichment out of this experience as our seniors get from their interactions with our up-and-coming social workers,” Garland said.
Megan Moore, director of Training, Development and Compliance at KVC Kentucky, a behavioral health care organization, said that KVC Kentucky has a long-standing tradition of providing a robust practicum experience for both bachelor's and master's degree level social work students.
“KVC Kentucky values the role that students play in the agency and offers a wide array of learning experiences in the areas of child welfare, foster care, behavioral health, substance abuse and co-occurring disorder treatment. KVC's partnership with University of Kentucky College of Social Work has allowed for unique opportunities for students to learn in a stimulating and supportive environment with their peers. Many of KVC Kentucky's leaders and employees began their professional careers as bachelor and masters level social work practicum students.”
When Jacqueline Dallaire first decided to come to UK, she already knew that she wanted to become a physician and wanted an undergraduate major that would teach her about people, and then she came across social work.
“Being a social work student at UK has broadened and deepened both my understanding of and respect for the diversity of the human experience. I learned what it meant to truly value human dignity and autonomy, and I came to appreciate the critical importance of social context. While a lot of the groundwork for those lessons was laid in the classroom, social work truly came to life for me during my practicums.”
Graduate student Rebecca Stinsky pursued her bachelor's degree at UK while actively serving in the U.S. Marine Corps. The thing she loved the most about her time in the military was the people with whom she served. That experience gave her a greater sense of purpose — service to others.
“After I discharged from active duty, I knew I wanted to put my G.I. Bill to work and to pursue a career that was versatile and that would continue to fuel my purpose. Through UK's College of Social Work's supportive and genuine faculty, I was able to develop my interest further and tailor my education around what matters most to me: our nation's military and veteran populations,” Stinsky said.
“As an undergrad, I completed a placement at the Volunteers of America's Homeless Veterans Transitional Treatment Program, a two-year residential substance abuse program specifically for homeless veterans. Throughout graduate school, I have been placed at the Lexington VA Medical Center. I have worked with the acute care medicine teams and have recently transferred onto the acute psychiatric unit. This has proven to be one of the most valuable experiences in my journey through higher education. I feel as though my coursework coupled with real-life, hands-on, tangible experience is setting me up for success in the future.”
UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: uky.edu/uk4ky. #uky4ky #seeblue
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