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Student Profiles: McGowan on Group Work

Fannie McGowan, a UConn MSW student with a concentration in Group Work, chose the UConn School of Social Work due to its methods-based curriculum which would help her realize her dream to be a lifelong activist.

Bachelor’s Degree: University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Individual Concentration: Social Justice Education

After completing my undergraduate degree, I moved to New York City with hopes to continue working on social justice projects. During my time in NYC I was privileged to receive the opportunity to work with two agencies funded by the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program. My first experience was managing grants for an LGBT youth comprehensive care center, and my second providing direct support services to adults living with HIV/AIDS and serious mental illness. During this time I decided that receiving an MSW meant choosing a profession which supported my dream to be a lifelong activist. Attending a predominantly clinical program did not support my dream and lead my search to the UConn School of Social Work which offers both macro and micro specializations.

During my first year Group Work field placement I interned at an adolescent partial hospitalization program which solely ran groups. Beginning was difficult, as I am sure it is for most interns, as the group had already been established and was open ended. My placement pushed me to look critically at my coursework to participate in praxis at my field placement. While I enjoyed receiving clinical experience, I wanted challenge myself to work in a ‘macro’ sense during my first year, so I joined the Graduate Student Organization as the chair for the student group PRIDE. PRIDE allowed me to meet in group settings and practice my facilitation skills while engaging in community organizing, policy, and administrative skill sets. Currently I am serving as the co-chair of the Graduate Student Organization and utilizing this opportunity as a way to continue enhancing these competencies. I encourage all students, regardless of their method concentration to participate in the Graduate Student Organization, as you can employ multiple aspects of social work in a safe, supportive space.

The most beneficial part of the SSW for me is the multiple avenues in which you can acquire feedback and support. Reach out to your field supervisor, your field advisor, your professors, student services, peers and alumni! When you receive their feedback, whether it be positive or constructive, really receive it, actively listen and processes it. Developing our social work skills and increasing effective communication can afford us to be agents of social change and transformation!