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A bachelor's degree or its equivalent from a nationally or regionally accredited college or university; AND Complete set of your undergraduate and graduate transcripts. At minimum, a 3.0 GPA is required.
Healthcare Social Worker
Almost three years ago, Sue Cardona MSW '07 joined the Department of Medicine at Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, N.Y. After 18 months, she became a palliative care social worker in the Department of Family and Social Medicine. As part of an interdisciplinary team, Sue works with patients and their families to discuss goals of care when faced with a life-limiting illness. She also provides bereavement support to patients' families after their loved one has died.
"The hospital system is complex, and having an understanding of how it works is one way I can advocate for and with patients and their families," Sue says. "I see myself as an agent of change one patient at a time," she adds. "As my career develops, I hope I become an agent of change beyond the hospital walls."
Helping people through difficult times has always been Sue's intent. She initially thought it would be through psychology, but something was missing. "While I value my undergraduate degree in psychology, it left me asking questions about socioeconomic status, policy and how to implement social change," she explains. "The search for answers to these questions led me directly to social work."
And her search for the right program to earn her MSW brought Sue to Binghamton.
"Binghamton University is well known for its academic excellence, and I was interested in the advanced generalist curriculum," she explains. Sue was impressed with the availability and flexibility of her instructors and the variety of field placements to choose from. "Not to mention, it all came at a financial cost I could manage," she adds.
But it's the program's curriculum that really stands out, according to Sue. "Studying from an advanced generalist practice curriculum has been the foundation of my career," she says. "After four years in the field, I still refer to my education and field experiences and apply them to my current work."
Clinical Social Worker
Kathryn Collins MSW '11 performed her second-year field placement in the general counseling program at the Family & Children's Society in 2010. When it ended, she stayed on.
"I built up a caseload, working two days a week, and I provide therapy for individuals, couples and groups," Kathryn says. "I am volunteering there in the same capacity because I want to keep providing therapy for my existing clients. I have added some new clients, and I am gaining valuable experience as a social worker."
Kathryn came to social work by way of education. She earned a bachelor's degree in English secondary education in 1989 and a master's degree in literature in 1995, both from SUNY College at Oneonta.
"I was a teacher for 20 years, and I was fulfilled bringing literacy to children," she explains. "But I realized that I was more concerned with helping children and their families with problems that distracted them from learning. I felt restricted by my role as a teacher, and I knew becoming a social worker would allow me to expand my capacity to help people."
In January 2010 Kathryn participated in the MSW program's service-learning project in the seventh ward of New Orleans, which provides mental-health support and other services to children and adults affected by Hurricane Katrina. She says the experience was "transformative."
Through her field and volunteer work, Kathryn is transforming others.
"I have been able to help individuals to overcome crises and change lifelong patterns of destructive behavior. I have been able to help people change the way they perceive and think about themselves and the world," she says.
"However, the most important changes were the ones I've made myself in my own life, and I think this is one of the greatest strengths I bring to the profession of social work."
"Social work is an act of compassion and a commitment to foster change in many aspects of life experiences," says Eva Denson '91, MSW '11.
Her own life experiences brought Eva to social work. She made a commitment to this field after working in two related ones: mental health and human services. In both of these areas, Eva gained critical experience working directly with people from diverse backgrounds.
"Many of these individuals were marginalized by social service agencies and deemed incapable of making or taking responsibility for changes in their lives," Eva explains. "I learned that every human being must be offered the necessary education and exposure to make decisions about the areas of their lives they are willing to change," she adds.
A decision to change her own life brought Eva back to Binghamton University, where she received a bachelor of science degree in human services in 1991.
"I chose the MSW program at Binghamton because of its affordability, location and collaboration with community providers who share common interests, investments and goals," she says. "I quickly developed a strong admiration for the individuals who practice in the field of social work, and the many sacrifices made to assist others in empowering their own lives," she adds.
The most valuable thing Eva learned at Binghamton, she says, was "to apply theory to practice settings." Field placement experiences at CASA/ACCORD, the Family & Children's Society and the Southern Tier Aids Program gave Eva plenty of opportunity to do just that. Given her previous experience in human service and mental health, she was well prepared for the task.
Now, Eva is ready to tackle whatever challenges come her way. After all, change is what social work is all about.
Clinical Social Worker
John E. Jones '12, MSW '14 has a bachelor's degree in philosophy, politics and law. Perhaps that's why a philosopher's words come to mind when he discusses his profession.
"Bruce Lee said, 'Be like water.' He meant you always have to be changing," Jones explains. "As social workers, we're trying to alleviate social injustice and we're dealing with a system that's dynamic. Problems are complicated and complex and they're always changing. Social workers have to be agents of change because nothing remains static."
Dynamic describes Jones, who has been working with Binghamton's Promise Zone for more than two years, first as an intern (his first field placement), then as a graduate assistant and finally as an assistant counselor. He's also seeking employment as a clinical social worker in a university setting.
Jones gained experience working with college-age clients during his second field placement, at Binghamton's University Counseling Center. "At the University Counseling Center I worked with students dealing with various predicaments. It was the most challenging experience of my life, but it was worth it," he notes.
With two required field placements and demanding coursework, Jones says the MSW program is "tough." But he believes it's ideal preparation for a profession that carries with it a heavy workload.
"The field of helping people requires you to be able to do a lot of different things at one time," he says. "In the MSW program you have to do that, too; it models what social work is really like."
The ability to multitask is one of the valuable lessons Jones learned as an MSW student. The importance of remaining connected to the people you're trying to help is another. But most essential, according to Jones, is the role empathy plays in any goal to change the world.
He says, "If you want to make this world a better place, you must understand empathy and know how to practice it."
School Social Worker
Sometimes kids need an adult to talk to about their hopes, their fears or their problems in school or at home. For the almost 500 students at Richard T. Stank Middle School in Conklin, N.Y., that person is often Dan Kosick '00, MSW '06, the school's social worker.
Dan understands how learning, behavior and social problems can affect a student's success. So whether he is counseling students, training faculty, advocating for students and their parents, making referrals to community resources, helping shape district policy, or performing another of his many responsibilities, Dan's focus is always on identifying barriers that negatively impact students' ability to learn and then working with students, families and the school to effect positive changes.
"It's a social worker's job to act as a catalyst and buffer for change, and that goes for any setting — individuals, groups or community," he says. "It's my job to promote appropriate change when needed," he adds.
Dan chose to become a social worker after spending time as a substitute teacher and working with at-risk youths in the University's GEAR UP program (a partnership between Binghamton University's Graduate School of Education and the Binghamton City School District that helps low-income students prepare to succeed in college).
"Social work just seemed to fit," he says.
The program's part-time offering was another good fit. "I had a lot of stuff on my plate," he explains. "I have a family and I couldn't stop working, so the part-time option was the only way I could get my MSW."
Clinical Social Worker
Self-described as "overly empathetic," Alice Sounthala '11, MSW '14 always wanted to be in a helping profession. Armed with a bachelor's degree in human development, she worked in a few human service jobs. "But I always felt I was dispensable," she says.
Seeking greater security, Sounthala chose to explore social work. She performed unpaid internships where she could shadow social workers.
"Through these internships, I got to work with people who held similar values as I do," she explains. "These social workers were incredibly passionate about helping others; they were able to work effectively with their clients while also maintaining their emotions. I wanted to learn to do that."
Once Sounthala decided to get her MSW, Binghamton was the only school she applied to.
"I didn't know which area of social work I wanted to specialize in, so I was looking for a generalist program, which Binghamton offers. And after researching other schools, Binghamton made the most sense financially," she says. "I was also extremely pleased with my undergraduate experience in the CCPA. I felt that if I chose Binghamton again, I would receive the same quality of education I received as an undergrad."
Sounthala pursued her MSW full-time and graduated in May 2014. She quickly landed a position with The Neighborhood Center, a nonprofit agency in Utica, N.Y., that provides outreach, preventive, developmental and therapeutic human services to children and families in central New York. She joined the center's Mobile Crisis Assessment Team, working as a crisis counselor serving Chenango County.
Binghamton's combination of classroom instruction and field-service training were excellent preparation for the position, says Sounthala.
"My experience in the field gave me the opportunity to work with real clients in real-life situations, while my courses gave me a general understanding of the mental health population as well as taught me both specific therapeutic techniques and how to interact with clients in particular situations," she explains.
Criminal Justice Social Worker
"I see social work as a force for social change," says Chris Titus MSW '11.
Chris intends to focus his career on a population often overlooked: juvenile and adult offenders and ex-offenders.
He volunteers at the Prison Support Network (PSN), a Binghamton graduate student organization that helps those incarcerated nationwide. He joined PSN during his first MSW field internship. That experience brought Chris face to face with youth in New York's juvenile rehabilitation system at MacCormick Secure Center in Tompkins County.
"MacCormick gave me a good opportunity to work with a population I really care about," Chris explains. "Since it's a closed facility, I also got to see things most people don't."
During his second field training, Chris was among the first University interns to work on the SHARE project, a multidisciplinary effort designed to create a safer school environment for children across Broome County.
"SHARE was an invaluable experience. I learned how to engage with different partners and how to set up a program," Chris says. "It also helped me understand the clinical science of therapy and how important it is to understand the culture of the population you're trying to help."
Chris gained experience writing grant proposals through his coursework and intends to use that skill securing grant funding for PSN's Off magazine, which publishes articles, essays, poetry and artwork created by prisoners across the country. He also hopes to obtain a grant for another group he volunteers with, the Broome County Jail Project, which assists inmates at the county jail.
"I became a social worker to change the way we deal with the social issue of crime and how we look at offenders and ex-offenders," he explains.
He is well on his way!
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