Katherine wanted the knowledge and the skills to make a difference. As supervisor at Rock Island Health Department, she helped pregnant women and infants every day. But she knew she could do even more. The MSW program helped her to see things at a community-wide level. She learned that social work is not just a job, it’s a commitment to making a change.
In his/her own words
What does your position at Rock Island County Health Department involve?
As family case management supervisor, I coordinate a state/grant-funded program for pregnant women and infants. We promote healthy birth outcomes. We coordinate all their medical needs, screen for mental health or domestic violence and make appropriate referrals. We also do developmental screening for infants.
What inspired you to get your MSW?
I’d been thinking about it for a few years, and my children are teenagers now. I really wanted to have more knowledge and skills to make a difference at my job and in the community. I volunteered with World Relief and saw so many needs—and I knew I could help.
I wanted the clinical skills, too. The health department sees a lot of women who come up high on post-partum depression screening, and we refer them, but they often don’t follow through because of childcare and transportation problems. I wanted the ability to provide them with a support group so they could get counseling and therapy.
How was your internship with refugee families at World Relief?
I helped refugees get set up in their apartments and taught them how do things like open a bank account, manage money and go to the doctor. Many of the women came from African tribes, who did not go for prenatal care.
World Relief sent me to Chicago to receive training at a course called Strengthening Marriages, which is a culturally appropriate target for refugee families. I then taught a series of classes to couples, going over communication skills and role-playing.
What have you been up to since graduation?
Since completing my MSW, I’ve been able to accept more challenges as a supervisor. I’ve taken on a school-based health center associated with the center. I’ll also provide counseling to high school students, doing family counseling and assisting students with school difficulties.
I’ve gotten more active with the community. Working with the Poverty Task Force and the Mental Health Coalition helped me to see things at a macro level. I continue to volunteer with World Relief. In fact, we’re thinking about starting up another Strengthening Marriages class.