The Garland School of Social Work’s Master of Social Work (MSW) Preview Day in October gave prospective students a unique glimpse into the program and what their next few years could hold if they decide to pursue an MSW at Baylor University.
I asked visiting students about their experiences at Preview Day and received a variety of positive responses.
Baylor senior and political science major Lynden Scott said Preview Day was “informative and engaging.”
“I liked getting to sit in on a class. It helped me understand what it would be like to be a student in the program. I also enjoyed getting to visit with current students,” she said.
Since Lynden is studying Political Science, she was not as familiar with the GSSW as students who have been working on a BSW. Lynden told me she is interested in improving the foster care system in Texas. After an internship focusing on policy, Lynden realized she wanted to work more personally with the people she hopes to enact change for. This change of focus is what led her to MSW Preview Day.
“I really did not know too much before I went to Preview Day. I think Preview Day gave me a much better understanding of what a career in social work could actually look like,” Lynden said.
Lynden went on, saying, “What surprised me the most was just how versatile a career in social work can be. I learned that the demand for social workers in even a corporate setting is growing.” The GSSW has been recently emphasizing the need for social workers in a diverse array of settings, citing the great value of social workers’ perspectives in workplaces that traditionally have not included social workers among their staffs.
Shayna Bettinger, another Baylor senior finishing up her BSW said, “The staff was super helpful, and I learned a lot of great information regarding the next steps to take after graduation.”
Shayna appreciated getting more of the practical information regarding the program.
“I really liked the financial aid session and the advanced placement session because they had the most useful information for my current situation,” she said.
I think the program is unique in the way the staff cares and really gets to know the students. There is a family atmosphere unlike anything I have ever experienced in an academic setting.
Shayna said, “The most exciting thing I learned is that I don’t have to stay in Waco to complete my MSW.” She found that Baylor’s MSW program can be completed in-person both in Waco and at the Houston, Texas campus and can also be completed online.
Shayna plans to work with children and families once she is out in the workforce.
The last student I talked with was Baylor senior Maggie Geiler, who is a Communication Specialist major. As with Lynden, MSW Preview Day was very helpful in showing Maggie what it would be like to pursue an MSW. “[It was] most exciting to learn about the heart behind the [Garland] School of Social Work. Getting to hear the different professors talk about their vision behind teaching was inspiring,” Maggie said. “They truly care about the students and take time to deeply invest in them.”
Maggie most enjoyed a mock class with Dr. Harris that focused on dealing with trauma.
“I really, really love people. I am a communications major minoring in religion, so I have learned a lot about how to communicate and deal with people…but I am interested in how to help others in a way that isn't destructive,” Maggie said. “I want practicals and knowledge in how to help others who are walking through deep levels of chronic emotional and physical pain.” To go along with this, Maggie highlighted that she loved the incorporation of faith into social work education––one of the main tenants of the GSSW’s mission.
Maggie’s “social worker heart” was evident in her enjoyment of the day. She plans on focusing on counseling, particular dealing with mental health, trauma, and chronic pain.
I asked each of the students what they thought made the Garland School special, and they all believed that the personal relationships and care of faculty was what really made the social work program so wonderful.
“I think the program is unique in the way the staff cares and really gets to know the students. There is a family atmosphere unlike anything I have ever experienced in an academic setting,” Shayna said.
Lynden agreed, saying, “It was evident from the teachers I interacted with that the faculty members really invest in the students. I think students who go through their program will be completely prepared to enter into a career in social work.”
Social work, at its core, is all about connection between people, so it is no surprise that the faculty and staff here so readily partner with students to foster growth and help them pursue the issues and interests that have drawn them to social work in the first place.
Maggie summed this up well: “It is like nothing I have ever seen! The professors are mentors to the students, and really get behind them to move them forward in all areas of life. It is so evident.”