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Student Profiles: Emily Cahill on Policy Practice

Emily decided to pursue her MSW at UConn School of Social Work after learning about the School’s Policy Practice concentration.

Emily Cahill, MSW Student with a Concentration in Policy Practice chooses International Issues in Social Work as her focused area of study

Bachelor’s Degree: University of Connecticut, Double Major in English and Women’s Studies

I’ve been interested in social work since my undergraduate years at UCONN. As a Women’s Studies major, I became involved with initiatives to end violence against women and quickly grew passionate about advocating for legislative change. I decided to pursue my MSW at UConn School of Social Work after learning about the School’s Policy Practice concentration, a focus offered by very few graduate social work programs. The Policy Practice concentration seemed like the best option for me to build upon my interests, strengths, and commitment to social justice through influencing social welfare policies.

It turned out to be the perfect fit. While I adjusted to the overwhelming feat of juggling work, a field placement, classes, and life beyond school, I found it essential to build relationships with professors and classmates to make the most of my experience. It was inspiring to meet so many people who shared a common goal (and who were pretty awesome in general). On the educational side, my foundation courses provided an excellent overview of the theories that inform social work practice, as well as the myriad challenges involved in promoting positive social change. My professors and advisor were also tremendously insightful and approachable throughout the first year, which encouraged me in and beyond the classroom.

In addition to the coursework, my first year field placement proved to be an incredibly valuable learning experience. As a policy intern at the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, I was introduced to the challenges of political advocacy, lobbying, and promoting a policy agenda to mobilize support during the legislative session. I also participated in numerous agency trainings and contributed to research projects throughout the year.

While I wasn’t able to join any on-campus organizations during my first year, I look forward to becoming more involved in 2010-2011 as the Policy Practice Chair of the SSW Student Organization. The School of Social Work offers so many educational seminars, events and social activities throughout the year, and I encourage new students to become involved in any way they can. Have an open mind and take every opportunity to learn, be challenged, gain insight, and get inspired.