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Master of Social Work

Kathryn Schuster '14 MSW

kathryn schuster


Orchard Place Child Guidance Center

Des Moines, Iowa

What is your current position and what does it involve?
I am a therapist at the Orchard Place Child Guidance Center in Des Moines, Iowa. I provide out-patient therapy to children and adolescents who have a variety of mental health diagnoses. The majority of the clients on my caseload have experienced significant trauma(s). Together, we implement a client-centered treatment plan in order to address the presenting concerns while focusing on their overall strength and resilience.

What inspired you to get your MSW?
I have always wanted to become a therapist. As an undergraduate psychology major, I initially thought I wanted to get an advanced degree in psychology. However, as I became more experienced in the "real world," I felt compelled to get my MSW because I have a true passion for social justice and advocacy.

What's the most valuable thing you learned?
The most valuable thing I learned is to always abide by the NASW Code of Ethics. St. Ambrose prepares their students to be ethical social workers and incorporates the Code of Ethics into class lectures frequently.

How did your goals grow or change?
During my first year in the MSW program I was honestly scared to take policy. I assumed it would be something that I would hate. Turns out that I loved it, and I now I find myself contacting legislators and attending events at the capitol in Des Moines because what they say is true: policy affects practice!

What advice would you give to prospective students?
I would encourage all perspective students to go on a tour, meet the professors, and ask current students about their experiences at St. Ambrose. Once they commit, I would encourage them to get involved on campus! Being the president of the Graduate Student Government Association was such a great experience for me while I was there. I was able to collaborate with students and faculty members from other graduate programs in order to enhance the graduate student experience for all students.

Why did you choose Ambrose?
I decided to attend St. Ambrose University after two of my friends went through the MSW program, and had nothing but wonderful things to say. I took a tour, met some of the professors, and instantly knew it was the perfect fit for me. I really liked the small class sizes, the graduate assistantship opportunities, and the overall feeling of being part of such an empowering community. I am beyond grateful for the education I received at St. Ambrose!

What was the most influential thing you learned in the MSW program?
The most influential thing I learned in the MSW program is to use a "strengths-based approach" to assist my clients in feeling empowered. I truly feel like it helps me connect with my clients and build a therapeutic rapport with them from day one.