By Kaylee Greenlee | Reporter
Before choosing the best graduate school to attend, many students find it beneficial to test the waters. Preview events give prospective students the opportunity to visit campus and see how they could fit into the program.
Diana R. Garland School of Social Work held a preview day Friday at the School of Social Work downtown. Prospective students had the opportunity to meet current students, visit with current faculty, and tour campus. Prospective students were also invited to a catered lunch and attended breakout sessions where they discussed classroom experience, programs of interest and student experiences.
The Garland School of Social Work offers four graduate degree options and two academic concentrations. These prepare professional social workers who can assess and build on strengths of persons, families and communities.
“Any of our graduates who want a job, get a job,” said David Pooler, Associate Professor and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs.
Pooler said that graduates of this program are prepared to serve as social work clinicians and counselors, program planners, administrators and community developers.
The field of social work is a new and growing one, with jobs readily available according to Pooler. To prepare for graduate school, he said undergraduate students should focus their attention on gaining experience through human interaction.
“If you don’t have work/volunteer experience it shouldn’t hinder you, but make sure you’ve taken all of your prerequisites,” Pooler said.
Prospective students also heard from current students and organizations the Garland School of Social Work collaborates with to get a glimpse into field placement opportunities and to learn about some coalitions and other things that are growing and moving in the community.
“There are a lot of opportunities for social workers here in Waco; it is an amazing community that has a lot of strengths and assets, but also room for growth,” Waco master’s candidate Elise Jones said.
Some of the organizations current students work with include; the Cove, Mission Waco, Jubilee, Waco Immigrants Alliance, the Heart of Texas Human Trafficking, Unbound, Bear Project, World Hunger Relief INC., and many others.
Another program within the School of Social Work is the Integrated Behavioral Health Certificate, which counts as an elective open to both students and practitioners within the community. They recognized that many people who are seeking mental health treatment turn to their primary care physicians because they can’t afford to go to a mental health specialist. Through this elective social workers, counselors and psychologists are trained in an integrated behavioral healthcare environment by working alongside doctors and primary care physicians.
“The school is located downtown, off of the main campus; which is great because a lot of the nonprofits and the schools are in this area,” Jones said.
While the Garland School of Social Work offers numerous ways for students to gain clinical experience, the professors prepare students to cope with the weight that comes with working with diverse and vulnerable people.
“Where you find deep pain, you find deep joy, there are times you bring stuff home; but there is nothing like knowing you helped someone be better off in the world,” said Sarah Ritter, MSW Program Director and Full-time Lecturer.