Are you determined to make a true difference for someone who really needs it? Are you patient, understanding, and open-minded? Do you believe that, with enough positive guidance, anyone can change? If so, you might be the perfect candidate for Buffalo State College’s Social Work program. Read on to learn if social work is right for you.
Social workers assist those who are most in need in our society — troubled teenagers, neglected children, isolated elderly people, and all who struggle with poverty, homelessness, or addiction. Some social workers assist patients during hospital stays; others serve as counselors in high schools or colleges; and many work with disadvantaged families to help with their child-rearing, housing, or employment needs. Some have private practices, just like physicians or psychologists do, to advise patients who are experiencing personal problems.
Social work is a notoriously tough field. However, it also can be tremendously rewarding. Those who pursue social work often describe feeling a “calling” to help others — a deep need to create positive good in the world. And there is a growing need for these professionals. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted that the social work field will grow 25 percent faster than the average for all occupations through 2020.
Cassandra St. Vil, ’05, entered Buffalo State through its Educational Opportunity Program.
“I knew I wanted to work with teenagers,” said St. Vil, “So I decided to major in social work.” By her sophomore year, she decided to go for a Ph.D. and was accepted into the McNair Scholars Program. She recently received a full merit-based scholarship to earn her master’s degree from Harvard University. “College was a way for me to prove myself to myself. If anything interested me, I tried it.”
Carolyn Hilarski, professor of social work, draws on experience she developed in the 1990s working as an addiction counselor. “Users are always chasing the same high and once they become tolerant, they have to go the next level to achieve it,” she said. She advises parents worried about their children’s potential drug use to take a look at their own prescription drug use and levels of intoxication. “Everything you do is role-modeling.”
What makes Buffalo State’s social work program so special? Our program has been accredited by the Council on Social Work Education since 1975, and is unique in that it combines relevant academic preparation with hands-on practical experience.
Students in the program develop the skills required to work with clients who are diverse in race, ethnicity, gender, class, sexual orientation, ability, and religion. They also gain the knowledge and skills gleaned from a liberal arts education, including writing, logical thinking, and analysis. In addition, Buffalo State undergraduates studying social work benefit from:
Plenty of friends: Our Social Work Department is the largest undergraduate social work program in the SUNY system. Annually, about 300 students are enrolled in the program.
Excellent faculty: Our faculty have expertise in such areas as interpersonal violence, children and family dynamics, perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, and addiction.
A unique minor option: The Social Welfare minor examines the historical socio-cultural significance of citizenship, poverty, social welfare, diversity, and market economies, and helps students develop skills to solve local and global problems.
Buffalo State is proud to offer its social work students a program that combines academic learning with hands-on experiences. Opportunities open to social work students beyond the classroom include:
Students can do undergraduate research with a faculty adviser, typically in conjunction with the annual Student Research and Creativity program. Students also have conducted research abroad in countries such as Nicaragua and Trinidad.
All social work students are required to intern for two semesters in their senior year, at 15 hours per week. The extensive field experience ensures students are well-prepared to practice social work upon graduation. Per semester, approximately 67 students are placed in local agencies as case managers, care coordinators, direct service workers and social workers at local agencies such as the following:
A bachelor degree in social work can be used across multiple settings and fields including, but not limited to: mental health, health, law, business, criminal justice, education, addiction treatment, art therapy, music therapy, and politics. Most graduates either obtain jobs in the field, some from their college field placements, or they pursue a master’s degree in social work. The most popular social work specializations include:
Our graduates are represented in a variety of practice fields at agencies and organizations, including:
Learn more about additional career options for social work graduates here (PDF, 13KB).
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