After I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington with a B.A. in Psychology, I knew I wanted to work as a mental health professional but was unsure what path to take to achieve my career goals. I worked as a research assistant in the department of Neurology at Georgetown University for a year, while also volunteering at Montgomery County Correctional Facility. I discovered a love for helping people in need and I began searching for graduate programs that would integrate my desire to learn with my love of service. I discovered the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) School of Social Work and immediately felt drawn to the curriculum. I was initially hesitant to pursue the UMB School of Social Work as an option because I live in Rockville with my family, and moving to Baltimore was not an affordable option. Upon further research, I discovered the UMB School of Social Work offered a master’s degree in social work (MSW) at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) campus with a concentration in clinical behavioral health. I applied to UMB School of Social Work and selected to take my classes at the USG campus.
My first day at USG I knew I had made the right choice. I was accepted as a research scholar and now work with Dr. Melissa Smith on her project studying community integration and social networks of adults with severe mental illness. I am also an intern at the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless men’s emergency shelter. After spending a year working out of college, what I really wanted from a graduate program was hands-on experience and that is exactly what I have found at USG. I am developing my professional skills alongside my academic skills and I can see my future in the field of social work.
I chose to attend my classes at USG because of the convenient location and for financial ease, but my favorite part is that I am directly serving my hometown community with my fieldwork. I have not decided what I would like to do after graduation, as social work has sparked so many different interests already. However, I do know that the program is empowering me to impact and change lives in many meaningful ways.