Social Workers dedicate their careers to serving the community. Fontbonne University prepares young professionals who are committed to social and economic justice to serve and empower individuals and families within the community. We are a community of learners called to “serve the dear neighbor without distinction,” according to the mission and heritage of our founders, the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet.
Social work gives you the option to switch from one area of focus or work with one demographic if you choose. It gives you freedom and flexibility to explore your passions. It allows you to expand your mind and challenges you to think critically, to advocate at every level. If you enjoy people and breaking down barriers, you will enjoy social work. Join the profession that allows you to do all of this and more.
We spoke with Libby Lyons MSW, LCSW, CEDS, and Assistant Professor Social Work Department to learn more about the department:
What would you want prospective students to know/ why should they want to pursue this path?
Social work is an amazing profession. It is holistic, all-encompassing, and exciting. Many of our professors entered the profession because it not only gave them a way to work with others but to also change the lives of people around them.
How do you service and supports students in their career efforts?
For our department, it begins in the classroom. Our instructors begin by teaching the students about our profession and the skills they will need as they progress through the courses and enter the field. We support students through academic advising, a small classroom environment that allows professors to know students individually and understand their needs. This helps professors know when to refer students to on-campus resources if needed.
For career support, we assist students throughout their time with us by placing them in practicums within the community that fit their interests and where they can get hands-on learning from BSW. They learn how to hone their skills, and what challenges they may face once graduating. During their practicum, we meet with the students each week in a seminar course to go over skills they are learning, challenges they are facing, and other items to help them process and develop as social workers.
What majors do prospective students have the opportunity to pursue?
- The Bachelor of Social Work, B.S.W.- This program combines classroom experiences designed to lay the foundation for a lifetime of knowledge with fieldwork opportunities for you to apply that knowledge in a real-world environment. The Fontbonne social work program is newly accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and utilizes the most current knowledge, values, and skills in social work education and professional practice.
- Social Welfare Minor- Enhance your career with a minor studies program that prepares you with the skills and knowledge needed to support social and economic justice through your work.
What services, events, and programs are supported by your department?
Social Work is also part of a community Consortium where we work with other Universities that provide practicum placements for BSW students. We provide training for professionals in the community who are interested in being field supervisors for BSW students in agencies, organizations, or private placements. These trainings occur quarterly and have helped our university gain over 400 placement options for Fontbonne students.
Our department has co-sponsored (with the Psychology Department and Counseling and Wellness and Athletics) the Mental Health Fair on campus which was a huge success. This was an event that highlighted the stigma around mental health and suicide, and resources that exist on and off-campus for students to reach out to if they or a loved one are struggling.
We also work with other departments on campus to provide education on what social work is, how we affect the community, and marketing for incoming students. We have also provided a few wellness talks around campus on stress relief.
How would you summarize this field?
Social Work gives students the option to work in a variety of settings across the lifespan, not only for the client but for the social worker. As a social worker, you can work with individuals, groups, communities, organizations, government, criminal justice, hospitals, schools, children…the list goes on and on. As a BSW, you can start in one area and move to another without returning to school, unless you want to do therapy. Then you must obtain your MSW degree, and an LCSW (Licensure of Social Work) to provide therapy. If you have a BSW, it is only 1 year to obtain your MSW, and then 2-3 years to obtain your LCSW.