Social Work Takes Heart: A Non-Traditional Student’s Back to School Story

27 Aug

By Harold Brown
NASW Member

We started at Youngstown State University (YSU) in January of 2008 and graduated together August 17, 2013. Darlene received a BSW and I received an AAS in social work. Going back to school later in life was intimidating, but we found that by using YSU services, getting to know our teachers, and especially getting to know our fellow students, we were able to achieve academic success. We both finished with a 3.3 GPA, which is not bad for two students who had been out of school many years. I am 67 and Darlene is 56. We found that trust in God, hard study, an open mind, and encouragement from friends, family, YSU staff, and fellow students helped us greatly.

We were featured on the front page of our local newspaper, The Vindicator, the day of graduation; this was more than we had expected. Extended family and members from our church, St. Timothy Missionary Baptist Church in Cleveland, travelled to Youngstown to support us. I was most proud of my wife, Darlene, walking across the stage to receive her degree because of the effort I know she put forth to receive her BSW. Darlene plans to seek employment working with the homeless, displaced families, women, and children, and I plan to seek a certificate in alcohol and drug counseling. To those over 25 (non-traditional students) we would both like to say: go forth with your education; ask for help and you will receive it. We have found that social work is not just a career that requires your mind; to be a good social worker you must first have a social work heart.

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