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Student Profiles: Rich on Policy Practice

Krystal Rich, a UConn MSW student with a concentration in Policy Practice, chose the UConn School of Social Work because she could obtain her MSW in Policy Practice while still learning about the importance of direct service work.

Bachelor’s Degree: Central Connecticut State University, Psychology

From the moment I walked through the halls of the UConn School of Social Work, I knew I could not imagine myself going anywhere else for my graduate career. Initially, I was interested in UConn because of the wide array of study options that are available, and the highly respected reputation of the program and its faculty members. After attending the open house, I learned much more about what the school had to offer and was excited to learn that I could obtain my MSW in policy practice while still learning about the importance of direct service work. Being able to customize my graduate program to fit what I had envisioned my future to be, made me feel like there was nothing stopping me from becoming one of the many social workers I admire today.

My experience at UConn, both in the classroom and through field experience, has not only been a growth opportunity for me as a future social worker, but has truly been a life changing experience. In the classroom, professors fill the time with stimulating course material, engaging discussions, and numerous opportunities to learn from fellow classmates. In the case of one of my classes, I had the occasion to uniquely expand my knowledge by traveling to Armenia to see first-hand how the field of social work is practiced in a developing nation. In addition, each class is as unique as the professor teaching it because of the wealth of research and field experience they bring with them. From my first day of class, each professor was extremely helpful and willing to go the extra mile to make sure my classmates and I were comfortable while at the same time challenging us to self-reflect and be open to alternative viewpoints. I don’t ever recall a time in the past year when I have felt alone or as though no one would be there to guide me through any obstacle I was faced with.

For the 2012-2013 school year, I was incredibly fortunate to be placed at the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF). During my time at CWEALF, I had the opportunity to work on several research projects that helped me to build my skills as a researcher and evaluator. I had the opportunity to take the lead on a sexual harassment study, as well as assisting in the evaluation of a Hartford based Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative. These experiences, combined with the constant support I received from my field supervisor, helped to further refine my future career goals.

In addition to the classroom and field experiences, one of the most rewarding parts of this graduate program has been the opportunity to collaborate with other social workers on school and community projects. Last year, I was able to co-chair the Policy Practice Concentration Committee through the Student Organization. The committee’s mission is to engage students in learning about the importance of policy work in the social work field, and emphasizing the importance of representing our clients’ best interests in the policies that are implemented in the community.

When I think of what advice is most important for future students to know, I can think of two things that I think are imperative. First of all, explore all of your options. Being in this program is your time to try new things, to make mistakes, to change your mind, and to decide what being a social worker means to you. Lastly, don’t forget to enjoy the journey!