Social Workers Are Essential is the theme of Social Work Month 2021. Anna Maria College is fortunate to have many talented practitioners working with its students and within the community. We’d like to introduce you to some of them.
Meet Kelly Sullivan, MSW, LICSW, Director of the Bachelor of Social Work Program.
What attracted you to social work?
I think social work has always been in my blood. In high school I opted to participate in our internship program and my first placement was in a Domestic Violence Shelter for women and I loved the experience! I also volunteered in the Special Needs classroom located within our high school and that was such an eye-opening opportunity for me. I just knew the path for me was working with people and helping people but that path did not lead me directly to social work. I started with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Psychology with plan to get a Master’s in Special Education so I could be an advocate for families with children with special needs. But, after having an AMAZING social work supervisor steer me towards social work – I knew my passion to help others was the profession of social work and that I had found my true career path. What other career can you say that you get to be present and help someone through their most vulnerable moments, and also be there to share in their triumphs? As a social worker, it is a privilege and an honor to be part of someone else’s journey.
What’s your role within Anna Maria College’s social work program?
I am currently the Director of Anna Maria College’s Bachelor of Social Work Program. My favorite role is professional and academic advisor to students. They are the future of our profession and it is so rewarding to help them find their passion and discover their career paths within the profession of social work.
What should students know about the program?
Anna Maria College is the only BSW program in Central Massachusetts. Our program is student centered and our dedicated faculty strive to help students achieve their academic and professional goals. Students will study social work through a curriculum designed based on social work’s core competencies that combine academic learning and hands on training to provide them with the in-demand skills needed to foster healthy change and growth in the lives of children, families, groups, and to impact positive community change. Our program has been accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) since 1974. Our students and faculty also like to participate in activities on campus and in our local communities that promote social action and social justice.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected or changed the profession?
I think it has highlighted the fact that Social Workers are essential workers and they have been working on the front lines in our communities every day – before COVID 19 hit our communities and now during the COVID pandemic. It has also expanded the use of tele-health services that were already being used in the field. This has been a learning curve for both social workers and clients, and I think it has shown the resiliency of people to create the best services possible under any circumstances
Tips for success/Tips for making the most of academic and experiential learning?
Be open-minded, be present, be intentional and be willing to go out of your comfort zone!
Looking beyond the BSW/MSW, what are some paths students should consider?
Having a social work degree opens so many doors for students. The degree offers opportunities for such a diverse field of practice. The opportunities are endless for a social worker. We have students working in the medical field, child and/or elder protective services, school settings, probation and law enforcement settings, agency settings, mental health and substance abuse settings, working within local, state and federal government. .BSW students have the opportunity to apply for Advanced Standing in any accredited MSW program and can complete their graduate degree in one year. Students who graduate with a BSW degree can apply and test for their LSW (Licensed Social Worker) immediately after graduation. We also tell students that once they have been post-grad for two years, they potentially can serve as a field supervisor for our juniors and seniors in field placements, so that is a great way to give back to the profession.
Tips for using Anna Maria College’s Alumni Network
We have social work alumni working in agencies across Worcester County and the state. We also have alumni in all of the New England states and beyond. AMCAT social work nation is far and wide! Keep in touch and keep connected. We tell students that networking is the key to any successful social worker. If you need a resource for a client, information on an agency, or even a new job opportunity, social workers from AMCAT nation will be there.