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Breaking Barriers in Social Work: Serving Underserved Communities
Social workers dedicate themselves to service, to making this world a more just, fair and safe place for all,” says Stacey Borasky Ferguson, dean of Chamberlain University’s Master of Social Work (MSW) program. While social workers help people from every background and every age, they are particularly well equipped to advocate for vulnerable and underserved communities that lack access to the resources and privileges that others have. That’s why social workers are often described as “the voice for the voiceless.” They stand up for children, seniors, the mentally ill, the poor, and those who need them most.
That’s exactly what drew MSW graduate Shari Gomez to earn her master’s in social work from Chamberlain. “I’m really passionate about working for diverse populations,” she says.
While working toward her MSW degree, Gomez had an internship with the National Latino Behavioral Health Association (NLBHA) assisting with cultural competency training and training development. Her work to advance health equity for all, especially underrepresented communities, helped Gomez determine her future path.
“I want to offer accessible care for people who might not otherwise be able to afford it,” she said in 2021. “I want to bridge the gap in access to mental health services for marginalized communities.”
Today, that’s exactly what she’s doing as associate clinical social worker and program coordinator for a nonprofit organization that treats, educates and rehabilitates people with mental health issues and co-occurring substance use disorders.
MSW graduate Carla Paisley originally thought she would become a nurse, but a supervisor encouraged her to pursue social work. She began Chamberlain’s online MSW degree program in May 2020, in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Paisley says, “The silver lining of COVID is that I’ve gotten to dig deep into my studies and it has given me the opportunity to really stop and examine what the next 40 years of my life could look like.” She realized that social work would allow her to treat the whole person. “I’ve finally found my life’s calling and passion,” she says, “and that is holistic care.”
While pursuing her MSW degree, Paisley also interned remotely for NLBHA and put her bilingual skills to good use interpreting the training program for the nonprofit organization. She helped the NLBHA work to influence national health policy and improve the quality of service and treatment outcomes for Latino populations.
Back in 2021, while she was still working toward her MSW, Paisley envisioned herself eventually earning her PhD in Social Work and opening a private practice for refugees and members of underserved communities who lack access to medical and mental health care. Today, Paisley works part-time as a therapist and also holds a leadership position with a nonprofit organization that serves refugees, immigrants and asylum seekers in the U.S.
If you want a career with purpose and the opportunity to create social change like Shari Gomez and Carla Paisley, social work could be your calling. Innovative and relevant, Chamberlain University’s online Master of Social Work program allows you to choose a full-time or part-time pace. Depending on the population you wish to work with, three tracks are offered:
- Crisis and Response Interventions
- Medical Social Work
If you want to become an extraordinary social work professional who is empowered to advance human rights and social justice, consider Chamberlain University’s Master of Social Work degree program. Request information about Chamberlain’s MSW program today.
Chamberlain University, an accredited institution, offers bachelor's, master's, doctoral and certificate programs in nursing and healthcare professions, including an Master of Social Work (MSW) degree program. With a growing network of campuses and robust online programs, Chamberlain continues to build on more than 130 years of excellence in preparing extraordinary healthcare professionals.
Chamberlain University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (www.hlcommission.org), an institutional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Chamberlain University’s Master of Social Work degree program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education’s (CSWE) Commission on Accreditation.
By Kathy Little
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