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What it's like to study Social Work at Centenary

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Meghan Boyle ’10

Program Coordinator Haven of Hope for Kids
MSW candidate, Silver School of Social Work NYU

Centenary College Social Work major »

When Meghan Boyle ’10 transferred to Centenary College from Warren County Community College she knew she wanted to become a social worker, but was unsure about the type of social worker she wanted to become. “The Centenary BSW program provided me with opportunities with different populations to test what I want to do,” said Megan, who will begin an MSW at the Silver School of Social Work at NYU this fall. With her BSW from Centenary, Megan received advanced standing at NYU and will be able to complete the program in one year.

Megan says a number of educational experiences at Centenary helped put her future career in focus. In her senior year, she completed 420 hours of field education with the North Warren Regional School District Child Study Team where she gained hands-on experience with everything from administrative work, to counseling and co-facilitating a group. “It was an absolutely amazing experience and I learned so much and grew throughout it,” Megan said.

Through BSW Program Field Director Terri Klemm, Megan also obtained a position with Haven of Hope for Kids, a nonprofit organization that offers support to families with children who have life threatening illnesses. Working with the organization on a part-time basis during the school year and full-time this summer, Megan is now considering a future career in a hospital pediatric center.

Wherever Megan’s future takes her, she appreciates the small classes and the relationships she developed at Centenary. “You really grow an amazing support system with the professors and your classmates. That’s an important piece in social work; it makes the experience 10 times better. I have no doubt that 10 years from now I’ll be able to go back to Centenary with an issue or a problem and they’ll be there for me.”

Mary Jo Harris ’09

Prevention educator, Family Guidance of Warren County
MSW candidate Kutztown University

Centenary College Social Work major »

Like a lot of women, Mary Jo Harris ’09 took a break from her career to stay home and raise children. When she was ready to go back to work, the former finance manager who specialized in annuities for the savings and loan industry, first enrolled in Warren County Community College thinking she’d earn a degree to become a high school guidance counselor. After one Intro to Social Work class, Mary Jo knew she wanted to become a social worker. “At the time, Centenary was in the midst of obtaining accreditation for the Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program so everything fell into place for me.”

A non-traditional student, Mary Jo appreciated the diversity of the BSW program at Centenary. “There was a cross section of students ranging in age from 19 to 53 and everything in between,” she recalled. “Our professors could relate to every single age group.”  The Centenary alumna can also attest to the rigor of the program. “Absolutely,” Mary Jo replied when asked if the program prepared her for this very rewarding yet very challenging profession. 

Now a prevention educator for Family Guidance of Warren County, a non-profit agency that works with children and adults affected by problems related to mental illness, substance abuse and family conflict, Mary Jo says the field education she experienced through Centenary was “one of the best things I could have done.” “I learned more in that internship than in years of going to seminars because it was so hands-on,” she said.

This fall she begins the MSW program at Kutztown University and will continue to work as a prevention educator. “With the BSW from Centenary I can go in under advanced standing and I’ll finish my MSW in one year, which is great.” In the short term, Mary Jo plans on obtaining an administrative position once she completes her MSW with the eventual goal of opening her own family practice. Reflecting on her experience, she is appreciative of the high standards one must meet to earn an accredited BSW and MSW. “These credentials means something,” she noted. “It means you are well qualified to do this work.”

Rosemary Uribe ’09

Case Worker
St. Joseph’s Healthcare System

Centenary College Sociology major »

Rosemary Uribe ’09 knew she wanted a small college experience. Her guidance counselor at Paterson Catholic High School suggested Centenary College, and when Rosemary did her research, she liked what she saw. “The classes were small,” recalls Rosemary. “So you are able to build a relationship with your professors.”

With an eye on social work, Rosemary majored in Sociology noting that the courses “look into things that are happening now and what’s going on in the world.” She also earned a concentration in Criminal Justice to complement her coursework and completed an internship with the Passaic County Drug Court Probation her senior year. “Through this internship I was able to see how sociology is linked to social work.”

Her favorite college experience however, was joining the Centenary Katrina Relief project, an annual service initiative that involves nearly 100 members of the Centenary community who travel to the Gulf Coast to restore homes and hope during winter break. “I was very happy that I was able to help,” says Rosemary, who graduated from Centenary cum laude. “The experience made me appreciate all the things I had back home.”

Today, Rosemary is a case worker for the Family Preservation Services program at St. Joseph’s Healthcare System. The program provides short-term intensive crisis intervention to families where children are at risk of out-of-home placement by the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFUS). Her duties include teaching parenting and communication skills, setting goals for the family and linking family members to services such as counseling.

Rosemary, who is also considering a master’s program in Sociology, says she was well equipped for the many challenges of her job. “The education I received at Centenary did prepare me for the outside world.”

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