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Athena Rufa is from Massena, New York. Athena was Co-President of the Student Social Work Association, a member of Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society and Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Society. Athena also participated in Project Help Alternative Spring Break 2006 and Transitions Boutique of Hospice. She completed her M.S.W. degree in May, 2008, at University at Buffalo.
Through my experience in my internship, I learned about case management, had the opportunity to go on home visits, attended workshops and trainings, had client interaction and learned a great deal about mental health. This experience also fueled my growth and development because it forced me to be more assertive and to identify my own learning needs.
The experience of social work has allowed me to really learn and get to know myself. I have become very self-aware, and my desire to become a social worker has been affirmed many times over. I made so many best friends in this program. This program allowed me to have first hand experience in advocating for change via Ward Hall Space Committee. I developed various leadership skills due to my role in the Social Work Student Association (SWSA), whereby I addressed and completed difficult tasks and collaborated with people who held various opinions and perspectives.
Get Involved! It would be a good idea to do some volunteer work, talk to former social work students and do some research. As you enter this program you must be open-minded and objective and you will soon learn of all the doors that social work can open for you.
Azilla Clarke is from Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean. She is completing her MSW degree at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. She was a member of the Social Work Student Association and participated in Alternative Spring Break through Project Help for two years.
When you enter the program of social work the general idea of helping people is everyone's goal but once you learn the techniques, procedures and processes, if you are truly committed then your desire grows. The two classes that had the greatest impact on me were grant writing and the international social work classes. Grant writing because as I will be returning home upon graduation, I know that the skills learned in writing grants will definitely come in handy for me. Secondly, international social work because I think that it is important for students within the United States, particularly social work and other human services, be aware and understand the bigger picture.
One of the great things about our program is that you get to intern within the community at various field placements. One of the fields of interest to me is that of Youth and Family Services. Hence, I interned at the Clinton County Youth Bureau assisting with the Youth Court initiative. This experience gave me a first hand look at an alternative youth sentencing program as well as what it takes to operate a quasi-government agency and program. That practical insight is invaluable.
I had a general view of social work coming into the program and now that I am going to be a graduate of the program I think that I not only chose the best major for me but that I got the best and most competitive undergraduate education at Plattsburgh State. The professors are willing to get to know you, your strengths and weaknesses, and harness the type of human service provider that you know you can be. The programs are challenging but once you are committed to your chosen profession then you will make it through. By the time you get ready for graduation, you will feel like a social worker ready to make your mark on the world with the help and tutelage of your professors.
Even though we will never be rich and we do the grunt work, once you have a basic belief that human beings are the world's greatest resource and you have a commitment to seeing an individual attain his/her full potential, then you were born to be social worker. This program at Plattsburgh State gives you a competitive foundation with which to step out into the world either into further education or as a practicing service provider. Good luck and welcome to the field!
Amanda Bulris is from Plattsburgh, New York. She is affiliated with NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness): Champlain Valley, NAMI: New York State, Families Together New York State, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Special Olympics of New York State, Joint Council of Economic Opportunity and National Head Start.
Internships that appear to be the most challenging are the most rewarding. My experience as an intern showed me what true social work is and how to apply the skills learned in class in real life situations. It allowed me the opportunity to grow both as a person and as an aspiring professional. My internship, without a doubt, fully prepared me to enter the world of social work. Our program is so well known in the community and the professors do such a great job with recruiting agencies that students are able to define the population they want to work with and intern at an agency that serves that specific population.
Because the social work program is relatively small, it is easier for the students in the program to build a sense of community, not only with their peers, but with professors alike. The social work program is real and practical. The program gave me a strong foundation for practice. The professors of the program are very knowledgeable and use real life scenarios to liven up discussions. Not only are they all great teachers, they are very caring, and are truly social workers first and teachers second.
A passion to help some of the most vulnerable populations is all you really need to be successful. Don't focus on the grades you receive, but merely focus on the long-term outcome, that being you too can make a difference. The social work program provides you with the needed skills to make that difference.
If you would like more information about social work at SUNY Plattsburgh, please contact
Margaretha Wilcke, Chairperson
Office: Ward Hall 112-C
Phone: (518) 564-4250
Fax: (518) 564-4161