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.
As a young adult, Brown joined the Army and served overseas in Germany and one tour in Iraq as part of the 101st Military Intelligence Battalion. During her time in Iraq, she served as a gunner and supply sergeant. Upon her honorable discharge, Brown left the military with a new purpose in mind: devoting her life to helping other veterans and active military duty members.
Brown went on to pursue her undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University Central Texas in 2016. At first, she was a psychology major, until she took a course in medical social work.
“[That’s where] I absolutely fell in love with all things social work, because I didn’t realize social workers can do what we can do. We can do so many things, we can work in so many settings,” said Brown.
Brown then started looking into MSW programs. Her friend suggested she check out Baylor. She first thought it was out of reach financially, but after applying for a number of scholarships, Brown officially became a part of the Bear family.
At first, Brown struggled with feeling underrepresented as a Black woman in her field, but she had a dedicated professor in her first semester at the GSSW, Luci Hoppe, who helped her realize she belonged and could have a future in social work. Brown felt a lack of representation only made it that much more important that she fight for her voice. Now, Brown knows that voice does not have to be the loudest, but rather the most consistent and assertive—because even if it falls upon deaf ears at first, change occurs with perseverance and not overnight.
[That’s where] I absolutely fell in love with all things social work, because I didn’t realize social workers can do what we can do. We can do so many things, we can work in so many settings.
While pursuing her MSW at Baylor, Brown learned to be confident in her abilities and to play to her strengths. She learned how to adapt and to open herself up to being more flexible. The skills she learned in the military about being disciplined, maintaining integrity and not cutting corners helped Brown succeed while working on her degree at Baylor. After two years of hard work, Brown completed her degree and lived up to her dream as a child of becoming a professional.
Now a licensed Master’s level social worker, Brown is working full-time as a nephrology social worker at the Fresenius Medical Center in Harker Heights. She hopes to soon complete her two years of supervision needed to receive her independent license for clinical social work. She looks forward each day to helping improve the quality of life for others.
Her dream is to one day work with active duty members at Fort Hood.
“That’s my truest professional passion, to work with military-affiliated individuals,” said Brown.
Brown never imagined she would find herself working in a dialysis unit, but she finds herself feeling rewarded every time her patients are able to get the help they need. She helps them find resources available such as insurance coverage for a chronic disease, as well as conduct psychosocial assessments, counseling, emotional support and refer patients to transplant facilities.
The nudges of encouragement she receives each day, and being able to help find solutions motivate Brown to push through the harder days. Any time she finds herself overwhelmed, she leans on her family and friends, gym sessions, car drives, or Netflix to help her replenish and prepare herself again for serving others.
In her advice to future social workers, Brown added “Don’t force your calling, your calling will choose you. Social work is a great field; it’s just about finding your niche. We have lots of room to grow and to live the life that’s most comfortable to us while enjoying our passion at the same time.”
Crystal Brown, we thank you for your service as a veteran, as a Bear, and as a social worker in the medical field. Good luck in your future endeavors and keep shining your light bright! #sicem