Embracing Differences to Find Commonality is How MSW Amanda Morgan-Henry Lives Her Best Life
“Someone out there is hungry. Someone out there is homeless.” Those were the overriding thoughts filling the mind of colleague Amanda Morgan-Henry, MSW, LCSW-C, on the day she suddenly switched from her role as a clothes buyer at JC Penny to becoming an advocate in the social-services arena.
The field director for the Master of Social Work (MSW) degree program at Chamberlain University went to college for one purpose – “to become the vice president of marketing for The Gap in Tokyo” and she consequently double majored in marketing and Japanese. But a few years out, Amanda changed her tune and became a manager of a homeless shelter for families with children while she earned her master’s degree in social work. “Once I got the bug, I knew what I had to do.”
Different Social Work Avenues
Amanda has served many roles in the social-work spectrum from community organizing in low-income communities near her home in Baltimore to a sex-abuse investigator. She also supervised foster care programs and taught group counseling among other subjects at a community college. Amanda then spread her wings to try private practice as The Space Therapist, assisting those with hoarding disorders. “I realized that issues with your space can cause anxiety so I used my entrepreneurial spirit along with my business degree and my experience in social service to help others.”
At that time, her best days were those that consisted of working with therapy clients, organizing and teaching workshops. “That’s a total potpourri for me,” Amanda giggled. “All the areas that keep me going.” But then she needed a change. She took a year-long sabbatical and moved to London – to get a break from work and to continue her British-Jamaican fairy-tale romance that began with a Facebook-friend request. They soon married and she decided to try life as a housewife. “I quickly learned that’s not my lane” and they returned to America.
Immersion & Simulation at Chamberlain
Once back, Amanda dipped her toe into the foster care world to reacclimate to the States and then headed into field work. Last year, she landed at Chamberlain in a job that allows her to be creative and will soon give her another shot in the classroom – this time to test out the new practicum courses she’s been developing.
Last year, Amanda completed a one-year certification in African-centered social work practice, an area near and dear to her heart. She’s hoping to land a classroom seat in a PhD program, focusing on the parenting journey of teenagers from an African-American perspective. She’d also like to research the career trajectories of African-American women social workers, an area she believes is currently understudied.
Turning Learnings into Reality
“Social work is connected to who you are; it’s personal,” Amanda explained. “You have to look at your own experiences and recognize the similarities and differences and reflect on it. Then you need to understand what your ethical responsibilities are and align to it.”
Even though she’s relatively new to the university, Amanda already appreciates what Chamberlain teaches social work students – to recognize their perspective and how it may differ from client perspectives, and then how to embrace those differences. “I get to monitor, assess and practice with them. Simulations, like immersion, give students the opportunities to see where they are and to push them a little bit – to see how they will perform despite the differences.”
Celebrating Her African Heritage
Just like social work in the field, Amanda is a true believer of continual learning. She Steps Forward as the president of the Baltimore chapter of the Association of Black Social Workers and offers workshops for local social workers and members of the community. She’s also connected through African religion, volunteering at community and networking events, and offering healing through an emotional emancipation circle.
Amanda said she is energized daily through the constant love and support of her family. The middle child of four growing up in Baltimore, she lives amongst her extended family and wouldn’t have it any other way. In fact, the ladies of the family all got together recently to celebrate Amanda’s birthday. “We had a girls’ night. We belly danced all night and it was great.”
Ready to earn your next degree? Learn more about Chamberlain’s MSW program.