Christopher Parker, MSW student with a concentration in Casework, found UConn SSW the perfect atmosphere for participatory learning
Bachelor’s Degree: Central Connecticut State University, Bachelor of Science in Education
Prior to being accepted into the School of Social Work at UConn, my passion for helping people has always driven me into volunteer programs and community involvement. I knew that being a social worker was always in my heart, however I was unaware of how my life would change.
I wanted to be sure that I selected a graduate program which offered a diverse perspective of clinical application and effective community involvement. While working in the mental health field for the past eight years, I have worked with many graduates from the School of Social Work who highly recommended this program. Upon completing my undergraduate degree in education, I felt that social work would serve as a valid compliment. I recognized the importance of focusing on social concerns and decided to pursue a Master’s in social work. My acceptance into the program at UConn generated excitement as well as privilege.
The field education component of the program is also enriching. I was able to secure my first year internship at the Institute of Living in Hartford, Connecticut. I interned at the Geriatric Intensive Outpatient Program in where I learned about the concerns of this growing population. I was able to gain experience in facilitating individual and group sessions effectively. I was also privileged to take part in a grant funded outreach program which offers mental health services to elderly clients residing in various housing facilities in the Hartford area. Being able to connect the academic experience with actual clinical supervision and practice while in the field, created the perfect atmosphere for participatory learning.
As rigorous as my schedule became during the first year, the multiple opportunities to enhance my clinical skills was made available both in the classroom and in the field. This was satisfied by attending several workshops sponsored by various student organizations on campus resulting in accepting the position of co-chair of the Organization for Black Social Work Students and a student representative for the Educational Review Committee. As a student, I feel it is important to get involved in opportunities which promote experiences in leadership and professional growth. Although participation in student organizations is not mandatory, I feel active involvement coupled with the academic experience allows students to meet their peers and work together towards building a stronger community while on and off campus.
Consequently, my initial definition of social work has been redefined. My experiences in the classroom and the field have increased my awareness of cultural competence, effective clinical interventions and systemic concerns which may hinder or help the clients I will encounter. I feel that upon graduation from the UConn School of Social Work, I will be confident and prepared to secure a position as a clinical social worker.