Why did you choose to pursue an MSW degree?
When I first got to BYU as an undergrad, I thought I was going to be an English teacher. I knew I wanted to help people in some capacity, and teaching seemed like it would be a really good fit. I was signed up for a bunch of English classes my second semester, and the night before classes started, I suddenly felt really uncomfortable. I ended up dropping those classes and adding classes from the School of Family Life. I fell in love and within a few days, declared my major as Marriage, Family, and Human Development. I was excited and felt like I was doing what I was supposed to do. But then I started wondering... what on earth do you do with that degree? With an English teaching degree, you become an English teacher. With a Marriage, Family, and Human Development degree... who knows? I started exploring my options and realized that I would most likely have to go to graduate school. As I examined my strengths, I realized that I was really good at listening to others and I had a strong desire to help them. I started looking into different counseling degrees, like clinical psych, schooling counseling, and MFT. I finally settled on social work because I liked how well-rounded it was. I could work in almost any setting and be a therapist. I liked the training provided by social work and I knew that social work is well-recognized and well-established in the helping professions. It felt like a great fit and I ran with it!
Why did you choose BYU's Social Work program?
To be honest, a huge factor in choosing BYU's program was the low cost of the program. I knew that in becoming a social worker, I didn't want to take on a lot of debt as I went through school because I knew I would not be making a lot when I graduated. (Good thing I didn't go into social work for the money.) BYU's low cost, plus paid internships, made so much sense because of that. I also appreciated that BYU offers a great spiritual perspective to social work, something you simply don't get at other universities. I also appreciated BYU's wonderful clinical program. One thing that I have also become really grateful for since starting the program is the cohort. As I was looking at schools, some talked about how wonderful having a cohort is and I just ignored it. I had survived quite well in undergrad by myself and didn't see how having a cohort would make a difference. However, I can truly say that having a cohort in this program is what has helped me survive grad school. Having just 40 people in the program forces you to become close and you know that you can rely on each other. I have so many fun memories with them in just this first year and I know that I will stay friends with these people for the rest of my life.
Tell us about your BYU internship experience(s):
My spring/summer internship has been at the Utah State Hospital in the Girls Youth Unit. To be honest, I was really upset when I was first placed there. I did not go into social work to work with this more "severe" population. I pictured myself working in an outpatient setting, doing things like working with those with depression. The state hospital wasn't even on my top 10 places of where I wanted to inter. However, Heavenly Father knew how I needed to learn and grow and so He placed me there, and I absolutely love it. The girls there are great, and the treatment team makes me feel like a valuable and contributing member of the team. They don't treat me like an intern-I am a social worker. My ideas and thoughts are respected, but people are always there to be a sounding board and to bounce ideas off of. That's not to say that everything is perfect. Some days are really hard and I don't understand how what I am doing is making a difference, especially when progress with these girls is really slow sometimes. But I know that I am helping and I keep pushing on. I am going to be sad to leave come fall. For my fall/winter internship, I'll be working at LDS Family Services and I am looking forward to learning and growing even more there!