Stories

Oct
19
2021
The Enneagram and Baylor's Certification Program
The Enneagram, unlike many modern-day personality tools such as the Myers-Briggs or the Birkman, can trace its roots to ancient times. The word itself is derived from the Greek words ennea (nine) and grammos (drawn symbol).

The Enneagram is represented by a circle with nine different starting points and nine equidistant lines drawn within the circle. It is meant to show nine different perspectives or “personalities” for how different people view and understand the world. The lines within the circle show how different personalities interact with each other in times of stress or growth. Numerous tests or checklists can be found online or in books to help someone identify which personality type resonates the most with themselves. However, as learned from Dr. Jon Singletary, Dean of the Garland School of Social Work, the Enneagram is so much more than just a test.

Dr. Singletary describes the Enneagram as a resource that can be used to better help us understand ourselves. He adds that the Enneagram can reveal more about how God has created us, is calling us, and transforming us.
Oct
5
2021
Crystal Brown Alumni Profile: Shining Her Light For Others
Military veteran and Baylor alumna Crystal Brown is shining her Baylor light via social work in a way she never expected—in the field of nephrology.

Growing up, Brown recalls seeing her cousin dressed professionally each day as an attorney. She always knew as a kid that she too wanted to be a professional one day so she would be able to establish her own voice.
Jun
29
2021
Meet Raashida Birmingham: 2021 MSW Clinical Intern of the Year
Congratulations to Raashida Birmingham, the Garland School of Social Work’s 2021 MSW Clinical Intern of the Year.

Like many others, Raashida did not first choose social work. However, after an internship with Healthy Families Florida, a program that “improves childhood outcomes and increases family self-sufficiency by empowering parents through education and community support,” Raashida said her supervisor at Healthy Families suggested the profession of social work to her.

“I am thankful for this suggestion because social work is definitely my calling. I love working with and serving others and am very passionate about having the opportunity to do that every day as a career,” Raashida said.
Jun
23
2021
Meet Nataly Sanchez: 2021 BSW Intern of the Year
“Nataly represents so much of what we are talking about nationally in terms of health care workers on the front lines during COVID-19. She is an academically excellent student. Nataly managed the many challenges of COVID-19 in her placement with dedication, perseverance and excellent client care this year,” said a colleague of the 2021 BSW Intern of the Year: Nataly Sanchez.

Nataly said she chose social work because of her strong passion for community building as well as her goal to fighting human trafficking.
Jun
9
2021
Meet Dondra Williams: MSW Community Practice Intern of the Year
“Dondra’s personal values align with service, integrity, and dignity, and she upholds these values while maintaining a sense of worth on the survivor. She appreciates and meets people where they are in terms of being diverse with different cultural and social values,” said Amanda Carpenter, task supervisor of Dondra Williams, the GSSW’s MSW Community Practice Intern of the Year.

Dondra began classes at the Garland School of Social Work’s online program in May of 2019. She said Baylor felt like the right place for her to pursue her master's degree because of the prioritization of the ethical integration of faith and practice, especially because of the influence her faith has had on her life choices to become a social worker.
Jun
7
2021
Professor awarded $3.1M NIH grant exploring interventions with young women in the juvenile justice system
WACO, Texas (May 25, 2021) – Danielle Parrish, Ph.D., professor in the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work at Baylor University, has been awarded a $3.1 million grant by the National Institutes of Health to study the efficacy of risk reduction intervention efforts for young women age 14-17 in the juvenile justice system. The grant will be dispersed over five years, beginning May 2021. The project, titled CHOICES-TEEN: Efficacy of a Bundled Risk Reduction Intervention for Juvenile Justice Females, is an effort to fill gaps in care for at-risk young women in the juvenile justice system.

"I'm really excited and honored to have this opportunity to pursue this research that I’ve had on my heart for many, many years," Parrish said. "This grant will provide the resources to implement a randomized controlled trial to test the efficacy of an intervention that I hope will be able to be used more widely in the U.S. and fill the gaps in services for this population."
May
28
2021
Meet Samantha Nelms: 2021 MSW Outstanding Student Award Winner
MSW Outstanding Student Award winner Samantha Nelms never imagined herself to be so involved in the field of social work.

Growing up, with her mother as a member of the city council in her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, Samantha had been raised to appreciate and prioritize policy and politics. Because of her passion for the two, she decided to major in sociology, a field where she could study social organization, structure and the reasons behind it.

Because of her expertise in the field after conducting her senior capstone on community partnership and education, Samantha remembers her friends that were already in the MSW program at the GSSW encouraging her to apply.
May
24
2021
Meet Isabella Book: 2021 BSW Spirit of Social Work Award Recipient
“I used to not stand up for myself. I think because of the nature of kindness at Baylor and the sense of advocacy that the School of Social Work instills, I do [now],” said Isabella Book, winner of the Garland School of Social Work BSW Spirt of Social Work Award. “I always knew I had it in me, but I just never carried through. I have a voice now, and I'm not afraid to use it.”

Isabella said along with learning about the importance of advocacy, the Garland School of Social Work has also inspired her to pursue what she believes to be her lifelong purpose and career path-- being a hospice social worker.
May
20
2021
Meet Asianna Brown: 2021 BSW Outstanding Student Award Winner
Being raised as a “military kid,” BSW Outstanding Student Award Winner Asianna Brown knew she always wanted to foster such meaningful connections as the ones she was fortunate enough to experience with social workers growing up.

“I reflected on a lot of my encounters with social workers as a military kid. I had my parents deployed at the same time, at points in my life. Sometimes my mom would be deployed and my dad would be in a different state so I had to deal with that,” Asianna explained. “I had a social worker who [would say], ‘Hey, I'm here to help,’ and it was a big relief to have somebody in my corner. I want to do that for other military dependents.”
May
10
2021
Honoring the late Alicia Martinez as MSW Spirit of Social Work Award Recipient
This year, it is with great pleasure mixed with great sadness that we award Alicia Martinez with the Garland School of Social Work’s 2021 Honorary MSW Spirit of Social Work Award.

What a bright, up-and-coming leader in the field of social work we lost when Alicia passed away due to COVID-19 in January of this year. But, today, it is our great honor to recognize her as this year’s recipient because she truly was a shining example of what it means to be the spirit of social work.

Alicia was a first-generation college student determined to make an impact on people. A friend said this of her: “She’s like, ‘I don’t care if they remember my name, but I just want to know that I’ve touched them.’”
Apr
1
2021
COVID-19 and Women’s Mental Health: The Impact on Wellbeing, Disparities, and Future Implications
The Coronavirus, first declared as a global pandemic on March 11th, 2020, has impacted millions of individuals in a variety of ways. Across the nation, people have suffered financially, physically, and emotionally from the virus. As a result, an immense number of individuals’ mental health amongst every age group have taken an extreme toll. However, a prominent population that has been heavily impacted have been women.


According to research, the fatality rate for men has been twice as high than for women – however, the pandemic has impacted more women’s mental health than men. Because women represent the majority of the health workforce, they have been at a greater risk for COVID-19 and the emotional toll it comes with (Thibault, 2020). The effects of quarantine alone have caused many to feel isolated, lost, and scared, which is distressing for anyone – but add a susceptible population for increased mental health issues into the mix, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Apr
1
2021
Falling Seed: How to provide pastoral care for complicated grief
Grief is a part of life for every person and, therefore, is a natural part of life for every church community.


Two of the most foundational duties of those in ministry are to walk alongside those who are grieving and to conduct funerals for the deceased and their loved ones. While the church is no stranger to grief, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented new challenges in how the church approaches and supports those grieving the loss of loved ones.

Apr
1
2021
Why You Should View Your Words as Expressions of Love
Words have power; they can carry freedom or they can carry weight.


We often forget that power also resides in names.


Our names are what we closely identify with in places of comfort and places of estrangement. Knowing someone’s name can allow them to feel safe and cared for, just like forgetting someone’s name can make someone feel shame and embarrassment.


The adjectives or labels that we ascribe to someone also carry weight. When talking to or about someone who is in a vulnerable state, the words used are particularly important.


For example, there is a common tendency to call individuals who are on the journey out of addiction and in recovery as “addicts” or “alcoholics.” The intentions might be pure, but the verbiage is haunting.


“Hi, my name is Lacey, and I am a new creation in Christ Jesus.” This statement was a hopeful reminder of a new identity I received when accepting the gift of salvation.

Apr
1
2021
Women In Social Work
In honor of women’s history month, I want to take a moment to emphasize the diversity of women in Social Work, and acknowledge contributions to the work of intersectionality that encompasses women’s issues. “Social workers are tasked to examine roles, equity and fairness not only in the profession, but within society and with the women they serve each day (NASW, 2021).” The role of the social worker is to promote social justice in all aspects of life including advocating for meaningful change for a better tomorrow. Social work is an emerging field with women taking the lead in addressing women’s rights. According to CSWE Annual 2019 report, 74.1% full time faculty in accredited Social Work universities are women (Council on Social Work Education, 2019).
Mar
19
2021
After spiritual trauma, finding welcome in church once more
Growing up, the church always was a safe place for me. I grew up in the same small-town church my entire life, and a lot of our life revolved around the church.


Sundays were filled with Sunday school and the beloved evening prayer meeting, while Wednesdays were for mission group and choir. Our church felt like a village, a family that was raising me alongside my family of origin.


As a teenager, this could feel smothering at times. The beloved elderly church ladies had a running commentary on my life; out of a place of love, they would frequently express their opinions on my life choices — both positive and negative. Overall, my church was a safe, loving, nurturing place to be.

Mar
19
2021
Falling Seed: Compound collective trauma: Four ways ministry leaders can help
Lately, it seems I never can get enough sleep. I find myself with less patience. A task that used to take me an hour now takes me three hours. Any of this sound familiar? I guess it probably does.


We are in the midst of “compound collective trauma.” Collective trauma is described as a traumatic experience that affects and involves entire groups of people, communities or societies, such as a hurricane or war.


In a previous article, I discussed the positive and negative effects of the collective trauma of Hurricane Harvey. That is just one example of a collective trauma that effects a specific community or geographical area.


The whole world is a geographical area, right now, experiencing the collective trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic. While various countries are experiencing it differently, everyone is simultaneously in the midst of some aspect of the pandemic, and we all are experiencing the trauma throughout our specific communities.

Mar
11
2021
Falling Seed: Don’t underestimate the power of little things
Because of the sensitivity and confidentiality of the people and location, this piece has been generalized to keep those involved safe and to challenge congregations of all sizes not to underestimate what they can do.


“We sometimes underestimate the influence of the little things.”—Charles W. Chesnutt


I am the kind of person that must be doing something “big” in order to think change will occur. However, I was challenged by the above quote from Chesnutt.


I was blessed recently to witness a church do something that in most eyes would seem small, insignificant and ordinary. Last week, I observed a small community church rally around one of their members, do the “little things” and, through them, advocate for this individual while also instilling a sense of hope.

Mar
11
2021
Fears of the Faithful Hinder Care, Bring Harm
Why it is so hard for some people of faith to own their own discomfort? To own their own fears and see how they injure others?


These are salient questions when it comes to creating caring Christian community for the LGBTQIA+ community. It is an even more relevant question for the leadership of my own university.


In the Bible, there are multiple references to people being known by their fruit and people’s actions being judged by their consequences.


Jesus’ fruit analogy seems to be one of the most useful lenses through which we can examine our words and actions. And it should help us provide clarity for any conversation about how we offer support to the LGBTQIA+ community.


People who are members of the LGBTQIA+ community do not harm or injure others in any way because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Mar
10
2021
LGBTQ+ Christians Continue to Feel Sting of Judgment, Exclusion
The history of the Christian church includes many examples of addressing who belongs and who does not belong, starting at the very beginning.


Despite how clear Jesus was that women belonged, that Samaritans belonged and that lepers belonged, the early church struggled with whether or not Jesus came for the Gentiles as well as the Jews.


That seems obvious to us now (as most reading this are likely Gentiles, not Jews), but it was a matter of contention until both Peter and Paul understood God’s inclusion of all and spoke up and spoke out.


Phillip’s encounter with the Ethiopian Eunuch gave a concrete answer to the question, “Is there anything preventing me from being baptized?”


The answer, to someone barred from entering the sanctuary because of sexual difference, resounds through the years but often not through the church.


As a member of Protestant, often Baptist, congregations through the years, I have participated in the use of the words “Brother” and “Sister” to refer to other Christians.


If we are truly family, what does it mean when we cut off our siblings? When we make them hide or leave the family because they are different and unwelcome?

Mar
1
2021
Dear America, stop erasing me
It didn’t take long for me to learn that what made me different was not always seen as beautiful by the world that existed outside the four walls that I was raised in.
My story is from a third generation Chinese American lens, who was raised in the Midwest and attended school in the south — please know this writing doesn’t encompass or represent all Asian American stories.
Feb
11
2021
Voices: Learning justice demands all of me
“The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed” (NIV, Psalm 103:6).

“God makes everything come out right; he puts victims back on their feet” (The Message, Psalm 103:6).

Christian Scriptures give great hope for the oppressed and victims of oppression. No matter which translation of the Bible we read, it is clear in Psalm 103:6 that God knows about the oppression and the resulting victimization.

The Bible is full of admonitions to followers of the way of Jesus about our actions toward the oppressed and victimized. We are to treat all people with love, dignity, honor and justice, because we all are made in the image of God.

Our actions should flow naturally from a heart filled with God’s love. Learning to see people as God would have us see them, with loving actions toward and on behalf of all people, comes with a commitment to do this hard work with the Lord. That commitment, I have discovered, is a life-long journey.
Feb
1
2021
Voices: Justice looks like antiracism
The white church in America is learning racism is not merely about our individual actions and decisions.

As a civil human being—more so as a child of God—we know better than to be racist, than to do racist things. In fact, in our effort not to be racists, we work hard to talk as though race doesn’t exist. Being colorblind was the way to be nonracist, we were taught. I suppose it meant if we didn’t see race, we couldn’t perpetuate it or contribute to racism.
Jan
6
2021
‘Cultural humility’ fosters a lifelong self-examination of racism
The work of identifying racist attitudes and behaviors is not only uncomfortable but also never-ending, said Kerri Fisher, a lecturer and diversity educator at Baylor University.

Recognizing white privilege and oppressive social systems isn’t enough to sustain “cultural humility,” said Fisher, co-chair of the Race Equity Work Team in Baylor’s Diana R. Garland School of Social Work.

“There are always new ways to be unjust, so we have to always be learning,” she said.

“Cultural humility” describes an ability to critically self-reflect on the existence of cultural differences and impacts on marginalized groups with the goal being to build relationships with those groups, she explained.

Fisher outlined the process for achieving cultural humility, anti-racist and anti-oppressive attitudes during a recent interview with Baptist News Global.
Dec
9
2020
Baylor social work, physics profs recognized as Undergraduate Research Mentors of the year
One point that often gets lost in the academic debate of teaching versus research is that research, at its best, is teaching. Baylor’s Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor Award — presented each year by Baylor Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Achievement (URSA) — aims to recognize those who exemplify that by mentoring undergraduate students in a research setting.

This year’s honorees? Dr. Stephanie Boddie from the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work, and Dr. Lorin S. Matthews (BS ’94, PhD ’98) from the Department of Physics.
Dec
5
2020
Falling Seed: Caring for others through trauma-sensitive language
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).

I memorized this verse as a child and earnestly sought to live it out. For most of my adolescence, I thought it meant being nice and cordial to the people around me. After learning about trauma-sensitive language, the verse has taken on a whole new meaning for me.

I now am aware of the diversity of experiences I might encounter on a daily basis in my congregation members or clients. I must remember each individual has a different story and has experienced things that caused deep pain and harm in their lives. I must remember we all handle things differently.
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