By Kelly Sullivan, MSW, LICSW, Director of the Bachelor of Social Work Program. 

Anna Maria College is hosting a social work conference: Open Minds: A Systematic Approach to Mental Health K-12. Taking place on April 26 from 9 am to 12:30 pm at the Zecco Auditorium, this event features: Annie Azarloza, Chief Academic Support Officer at Worcester Public Schools; Michael Lucas, Superintendent at Oxford Public Schools; Carrie Noseworthy, a parent with lived experience; and Carly Sebastian, LISCW, Director of Child Adolescent Services at the Department of Mental Health. 

1. What is the importance of this Conference?  

The participating seniors include those who are completing field placements and see the direct impact of mental health on children and families. Our social work students are all aware of the rising rates of mental health struggles in our schools and lack of resources in the community and they seek to address these concerns. They want this conference topic to highlight the needs, best practices, and strategies needed to improve students’ mental health. 

2. How were the guest speakers selected?  

The seniors collaborated on what information was relevant to their topic and who would be the best subject matter experts who could deliver that content.  Several of the speakers are affiliated with field placement sites where students are currently placed. 

3. What would you like prospective students to know about Anna Maria’s BSW program?  

Our program is small but mighty! Our professors are all licensed social workers who have practiced (or are still practicing in the community) so the real-world experience goes hand in hand with our academic curriculum. We look to offer learning opportunities both in the classroom and out of the classroom and provide service learning that enhances our programming!  Earning a bachelor’s degree in social work at a CSWE-accredited school may help open the door to further opportunities, such as an advanced standing MSW. With the work and field experience gained during a BSW program, students are prepared for and find employment in schools, government agencies, communities and non-profits. In many states including Massachusetts, a BSW can lead to entry-level social work licensure (LSW). 

4. What are some of the career paths that students can explore with a SW degree?  

The career paths are endless, social workers are everywhere! Behavioral Management, Child Protective Services, Case Management, Child Welfare Worker, Community Outreach Therapist, Substance Abuse Social Workers, Elder Protective Services and Elder Care Social Work, Juvenile Court Liaison, Probation Officer, Medical Social Worker, Rehabilitation Case Worker, School Social Work, Community outreach/advocacy, Criminal Justice System (police and prison systems), and even For-Profit Social Work such as, Insurance Eligibility and Fraud. 

5. What is the most rewarding part of your job as an education in the social work field? 

I love helping the students find their own path to social work, especially as they begin to find their voices and discern what type of social work might be right for them. Giving them the academic knowledge and professional skills they need on their journey to social work is key. As educators there is no greater reward than to be able to call our graduates “colleagues” and welcome them into this amazing profession. 

Registration for Open Minds: A Systematic Approach to Mental Health K-12 can be found here.