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Student Profile: Johnson on Policy Practice

Sarah Johnson, Policy Practice Student
 

I moved halfway across the country to enroll in the UConn MSW program because its curriculum seemed tailor-made for me: I would not only develop skills to be successful in macro social work but would also be able to focus all of my electives on international social work.

Sarah Johnson

Policy Practice
Advanced Year
Focused Area of Study: International Issues in Social Work
Bachelor's Degree: Southwestern University, BA in Psychology and Spanish

I moved halfway across the country to enroll in the UConn MSW program because its curriculum seemed tailor-made for me: I would not only develop skills to be successful in macro social work but would also be able to focus all of my electives on international social work. As someone who hopes to establish a career in international development working with non-governmental organizations to promote women’s rights around the world, this program was a perfect fit.

During my first year, the MSW program pushed me to develop both professionally and personally. My foundational field placement went above and beyond my expectations, confirming my passion in advocacy for women’s rights. My courses taught me to, in the words of a colleague, “be comfortable with being uncomfortable.” In many ways, this program has been most valuable to me because it has given me a lens through which I analyze the world around me as well as the skills to push for progress. Specifically, the close connection between course work and field experience allowed me to put the theories I learned in class into direct practice. The significance of the practical experience gained from a field placement cannot be overstated, and the placement opportunities provided by UConn to its students is almost unbelievable. This coming year I will be one of two UConn students to be placed at the United Nations in New York, which is a dream come true for me.

In terms of my activity on campus, I have tried to be very involved with student groups. Last year I served as the secretary of the Graduate Student Organization (GSO) and was involved with the Social Workers for Global Justice sub-organization. This year I will serve as the co-chair of Women’s Caucus and will be the student representative to the Educational Policy Committee. Being involved in GSO has shown me the myriad ways that social work students can increase awareness of pressing societal issues and increase our involvement in social justice movements. As an out-of-state student (coming from the faraway land of Austin, Texas), involvement in GSO also introduced me to a community of hard-working, passionate, and welcoming peers.

My advice for future students is to advocate for yourself and to push yourself. You made it this far; don’t settle in and let yourself get comfortable. Stay engaged: speak up in class, actively listen to others (especially when they express opinions opposite to yours), and do not be afraid to grow and change. This is your education and your career, and you must make of it what you will. The opportunities are there for you to get involved, be it through GSO, researching with a faculty member, or serving on a school-wide committee. Take advantage of all opportunities that arise, enjoy yourself, and use this opportunity to enhance your ability to act as an instrument of social change.