Published on March 8, 2019 by Sarah Waller  
MSW Rebecca Graber

In its mission to prepare graduates for lives of service as advanced social work practitioners, Samford University's Master of Social Work program in the School of Public Health offers students the choice of two concentrations: advanced clinical social work or community practice and social engagement.

Rebecca Graber is pursuing her degree with a concentration in advanced clinical social work. “I began looking into social work programs because I was interested in connecting my faith with practical, real-world experiences,” Graber said. “I chose the clinical concentration because it allows me to do therapy if that is a path I want to pursue.”

As a social worker, Graber will be uniquely positioned to work in a variety of areas, and she appreciates how her clinical concentration exposes her to today’s interprofessional approach to care. “We may have our own niche in health care, but we’re trained to realize that our niche impacts and is impacted by others,” she said.

As she continues to complete her 900 hours of field placement, she says it has been invaluable to practice in the field while at the same time attending class. “Completing my field placement alongside my course work is helpful because I’m not learning new theories detached from something,” she said. “I’m learning them in order to integrate the knowledge into my field placement and ultimately into my profession.”

LaSonya Clay is earning her Master of Social Work with a concentration in community practice and social engagement. This summer, Clay traveled to Tanzania with the School of Public Health and experienced firsthand many of the theories discussed in her classes.

“We had the opportunity to make home visits. At one home, a woman showed us her garden and explained all of the ways she uses plants in her daily life. We talk a lot in social work about using what is in the community to build the community, and this woman was doing it,” Clay said.

While the concentration focuses on both domestic and international community work, it equips students with the knowledge and skills to be able to respond to some of the most pressing issues of our time that impact the most vulnerable populations.

In Tanzania, Clay experienced this vulnerability in the poverty she witnessed. “The poverty we saw was very real. It changed my perspective in a way I didn’t anticipate."