In fall 2021, Arianna Glover, M.S.W. ’22, said goodbye to her comfort zone.
Her field placement in pursuit of a Master of Social Work placed her in the thick of a global crisis — the resettlement of Afghan refugees, following the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
Through the nonprofit organization, Inspiritus, Glover found herself working directly with refugees who were seeking resettlement in the U.S.
“Originally, it wasn’t what they had in mind for me, but things kind of shifted,” Glover said.
Although Samford’s School of Public Health offers an online M.S.W., Glover was attending school in person. But since Inspiritus had not yet established a refugee resettlement program in Birmingham, Glover — originally from Wheeler, Miss. — relocated to the nonprofit’s nearest refugee services branch in Savannah, Ga.
“In order to do what she felt called to do, she moved to Savannah and transitioned to our online courses,” said Jean Roberson, director of field education and assistant professor in the Department of Social Work. “She took full advantage of what our program offers.”
In Savannah, Glover focused on resettling Afghan refugees as quickly as possible, taking full responsibility for their cases, which often included finding housing, securing jobs, obtaining work visas, applying for Social Security and more.
Having desired to work with refugees, Glover found the work fulfilling. But it also provided valuable insight for her research, which focused on the importance of religion among refugee groups.
“In most situations, we see that religion is of the utmost importance and can help integrate refugees into a new society,” she said. “But what I found is that a lot of the people in my group wanted nothing to do with it, as they had experienced harsh religious (oppression) where they came from.”
And while this development informed her research, it also led to personal growth.
Glover was admittedly apprehensive and far from comfortable when it came to the language barrier, “but through my research, I learned that people can connect in many different ways,” she said.
She found that something as simple as a sewing class, for instance, could be more than a literal connection between one and another.
With her graduate work complete, Glover now works a counselor for low-income communities in Cookeville, Tenn., addressing mental health issues and working primarily with children, many of whom are refugees.
Her advice to others answering social work as their calling?
“Step outside of your comfort zone.”
This story is included as a feature in the fall 2022 issue of Seasons magazine. Enjoy the complete issue here.