Baylor Master of Social Work student Juliana Hale has been inspired by her work with many different populations, to earn her graduate degree. We were able to sit down with Juliana and ask her about her decision to pursue a career in the field of social work, why she chose to attend Baylor University, and her experiences within the program.
Read on to learn more about this bright young social worker who aspires to make a big difference in the life of everyone she meets.
Tell us about yourself. What initially sparked your interest in social work?
I was born and raised in a suburb of Houston, Texas. I completed my Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology with a minor in Psychology at Texas A&M University. When I switched my major from nursing to sociology while at Texas A&M, I began to explore the different career options available with this degree. I knew I wanted to help people but I didn’t know quite what that was going to look like.
As part of my sociology coursework, I completed an internship with the local child advocacy center in the Brazos Valley. I absolutely loved this work and began to explore the field of social work. I loved everything I read about the field and it resonated with me on such a personal level. The values that social workers uphold and the different types of careers social workers can have were two aspects that I really appreciated and really solidified my decision to pursue a master’s in social work.
Did you encounter any hesitations, obstacles, or fears when deciding to pursue an MSW? How did you overcome them?
I had some hesitation about pursuing an MSW because I was nervous about graduate-level coursework, in general. I had always been a good student, but I really did not know what to expect from graduate courses and I wasn’t sure I would be able to handle it. I overcame these fears by taking it one step at a time, asking lots of questions of my professors and other faculty members, and applying study and time management skills that I had learned in my undergraduate years.
I also had some hesitation around finances – being able to pay for school and committing to two years of not working in a full-time job to support myself. I think these are big things prospective students should consider when deciding whether an MSW program is a good fit for them in their current state in life. Although it has been a sacrifice, I have had a great amount of support from family that has made my completing this degree possible and I am so thankful for the opportunity.
Why did you choose Baylor for your MSW?
I learned about the MSW program at Baylor through researching schools of social work online and through talking with several alumni that had graduated from the program. I was initially attracted to the program because of its smaller size – I felt that this would provide a fantastic learning environment in which I would know my professors and fellow students well. I also appreciated their emphasis on integrating faith in practice that other schools did not provide because I felt it presented a holistic view of the person.
What do you appreciate most about the program?
I definitely appreciate the small class sizes. It really fosters an atmosphere where it is easy to ask questions and discuss topics with your professors and classmates. I appreciate the relationships I have been able to build with my classmates, as well. We are such a tight-knit group and that has provided me with so much support during graduate school and other life events.
Tell us about your field placement through the program. How has that shaped your view of social work?
During my first year in the program, I participated in a field placement at a residential treatment center for women who are struggling with substance abuse. The treatment was completely voluntary and unfortunately, that meant that sometimes there was a high rate of client turnover.
This shaped my view of social work because I had to learn that we can’t help everybody and we certainly can’t help people that do not want to receive help. I couldn’t do the work for them, but I could be a supportive presence that encouraged and empowered them to continue working hard. I think this is a concept that is helpful to understand when working with any population in a social work context.
What are your career dreams or plans?
I hope to work in some kind of setting with children and their families. I am currently in a field placement at a local hospital and I am really enjoying learning how to apply social work concepts in a medical setting with a multidisciplinary team.
I am also interested in working with children who are in foster care or who have been adopted. The MSW program at Baylor has helped prepare me for the future by setting high expectations for their students. This has challenged me to learn to be the best social worker possible and taught me about the different settings and jobs available to social workers with an MSW degree.
Why do you think social work is an essential profession?
I think social work is an essential profession because everyone goes through difficult experiences at one point in their life. Those difficult experiences may look different and they may range in severity for different people, but it does not make them less significant to that person.
Social work aims to help people through difficult times and it does so by putting the person first, meeting them where they are, giving them respect and dignity, and fighting for what is right. I love these aspects of the profession that social workers get to engage in on a daily basis.
What is the Value of an MSW?
I think earning an MSW degree is a valuable part of my professional journey because it has exposed me to different perspectives and the various difficult experiences people can have. It has taught me how to help them in those experiences, something I did not learn in my undergraduate work.
It also took some of the things I already understood about individuals, strengthened them, and applied them to direct work with people. Finally, it has opened up career opportunities that would not have been available to me with only a bachelor’s in sociology. With my MSW I will have the ability to work with a number of different populations in various settings.
At the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work at Baylor University, students are equipped with the tools and experience they need to succeed in assisting many different kinds of populations through social work. We invite you to check out our program to learn more about how your journey of helping others through social work can begin with our Master of Social Work degree.