Start your online degree today!
Military Students
Contact Admissions
Contact Admissions
Visit the Saint Leo University campus
Learn more about how to start an online degree today
image showing top half of building on Saint Leo University's campus

Saint Leo 360° Podcast

Episode 21: Master of Social Work Roundtable Conversation

Posted by Greg Lindberg on September 3, 2020

Roundtable conversation on Saint Leo's Master of Social Work program

Download PDF

Speaker 1:
Saint Leo 360. A 360 degree overview of the Saint Leo University Community.

Greg Lindberg:
Welcome to another episode of the Saint Leo 360 podcast. Once again, this is your host Greg Lindberg. On this episode, we are speaking about the Masters in Social Work program here at Saint Leo University. This is one of many graduate degree programs that Saint Leo offers. So to help us talk about the MSW program, we have four guests with us today. First, I'd like to introduce Dr. Michael Campbell, who is the Associate Director of Graduate Studies and Social Work at Saint Leo and also a faculty member in this program. Dr. Campbell, welcome.

Dr. Michael Campbell:
Greg, thanks for having us. Excited to talk a little bit about our program.

Greg Lindberg:
Absolutely. As far as students, we have Samantha Dunn. Samantha, how's it going today?

Samantha Dunn:
It's going well. Thank you so much for inviting us on.

Greg Lindberg:
Definitely. Appreciate you being here. We also have Christina Senn. Christina, welcome.

Christina Senn:
Thank you. So glad to be here.

Greg Lindberg:
Definitely. And last, but certainly not least, we have Dawn Farrier. Dawn, welcome.

Dawn Farrier:
Hi. Thanks for having us.

Greg Lindberg:
Sure thing. This is definitely going to be interesting. This is the most guests we've had on an episode, so I'm really looking forward to the conversation here. So let's start with Dr. Campbell. Dr. Campbell, if you could just give kind of a broad overview of the MSW program and the different tracks and different options that we offer here at Saint Leo.

Dr. Michael Campbell:
Sure. So Greg, the Master's in Social Work program, is a graduate course in study and social work. Social work is a discipline that's focused on trying to offer help and support for a broad variety of individuals who have needs related to mental health or related to homelessness or related to medical care. Social work is a very diverse profession and the Master's in Social Work helps students to be prepared to work in various settings from hospital settings to clinic settings, working in the field with nonprofit and for profit agencies, helping a variety of clients from the elderly to children and infants and all sort of needs in between.

Greg Lindberg:
Gotcha. Very interesting. I know we do offer specific tracks and different options, if you could speak a little bit about those different options that we have.

Dr. Michael Campbell:
Sure. The discipline of social work is... There's an undergraduate Bachelor's degree in social work that's offered at Saint Leo also. For students who come to our Master's program with a Bachelor's degree in social work, either from Saint Leo or from the Council on Social Work Education or CSWE accredited Bachelor's program, we have advanced standing tracks. So building on the undergraduate learning, students can come and start off in them in our Master's programs, starting into the clinical focus. For folks who have an undergraduate degree in a companion undergraduate degree, psychology, human services, sociology, and the like, they can join in a cohort that takes two or three years. It gives them the opportunity to learn some of those fundamental skills that the Bachelor's in social work would help them understand about how we work within communities.

Dr. Michael Campbell:
Social workers learn a lot about the person in the environment, so all of the clients that we work with we don't treat them independent of their community. They're part of the broader system. Ours is a cohort model, so students join with a group of students, advanced-standing, full-time or part-time. Or, the two and three-year of full-time and part-time programs. They work in their cohort to learn how they can help clients better navigate their environment.

Greg Lindberg:
Gotcha. Very interesting. All right, let's go to our students now. Let's start with Samantha. Samantha, if you could give a brief bio about yourself and introduce yourself.

Samantha Dunn:
Yeah. So I am 31. I'm currently located in Georgia, although I'm originally from Florida. That's kind of how I first heard about Saint Leo, was when I was living in Florida. I have a son and a husband. I work full-time and I am good example of a busy student for a distance-learning program. I think all of us are, honestly,

Greg Lindberg:
Definitely. Yeah. I know you had mentioned to me that you do some work with pediatrics, if you could kind of elaborate on that a little bit.

Samantha Dunn:
Yeah. So I currently work full-time at an outpatient clinic. We do mostly pediatric occupational therapy, speech therapy and physical therapy, but I'm hoping to add mental health in as soon as I graduate next month, that's kind of my direction. So it'll really be a great interdisciplinary approach.

Greg Lindberg:
Gotcha. Very nice. Christina, let's bring you in here. Just introduce yourself as far as where you're from and family, and then type of work that you do.

Christina Senn:
I'm 44. I've been married for about 23 years and I have four teenagers. One just went off to college and one's entering his senior year in high school, and then my twins are entering as freshmen this year. So we stay busy and I currently work in an intern position at the VA here in Jacksonville. I live just outside of Jacksonville, Florida and I work in primary care mental health now. When I graduate, I will be moving over to the Gainesville location to work full-time as a medical surgical social worker.

Greg Lindberg:
Very nice. That's great work. Dawn, tell us about yourself.

Dawn Farrier:
Yeah, so I'm actually in the Tampa Bay area. I live with my husband. We have three grown children. My oldest daughter is married and has a son, so we're proud grandparents with that and have a granddaughter on the way for the fall. I currently work as the medical and mental health provider for the local jail. So I do grant work to try and reduce recidivism for the clients in the jail that basically have diagnosis for substance abuse and severe mental illness.

Greg Lindberg:
Gotcha. Wow, that's definitely important work. Okay. So now let's move on to the next topic here, as far as your undergrad work and then how you actually came to Saint Leo for the MSW program. So let's start with Samantha on that one.

Samantha Dunn:
So I actually went to Middle Georgia State University with my undergraduate degree. I was a Bachelor's in psychology and I had a focus in Lifespan Development. I always wanted to do psychology ever since high school. I didn't want to do anything else. We lost our Clinical Psychology Doctorate program near me and I was devastated and one of my trusted mentors mentioned social work as a career fields. And I have to admit that initially I was very skeptical. I was very much, "I don't think I want to do that. Isn't that just E-facts kind of work?" and luckily he convinced me to look into it.

Samantha Dunn:
That's when I saw that Saint Leo had a distance-learning program. When I lived in Florida, I was familiar with Saint Leo, there was a campus on my associate's degree campus and so I knew that if I wanted to do a distance-learning program, I really wanted to do it someplace that I could trust and someplace that I knew had a good reputation. So, that's kind of how I fell into this program and I have to say social work is definitely so in my heart. No, offense to psychology, but I definitely feel like I found the right field.

Greg Lindberg:
Gotcha. Very nice. Christina, I understand that you actually did your undergrad with us, correct?

Christina Senn:
I did. I did undergrad in psychology. I am another one that went that route, have always been interested in psychology and how the mind works and took forever to get to that Bachelor's degree, just because of life. Did some research and found that Saint Leo had the online platform that I needed, even in the undergrad portion. I finished that and spoke with an advisor at Saint Leo to get direction and where I wanted to go with my life, as far as career went, and she mentioned social work. So like Samantha, I kind of was like, "Eh, I don't know if I want to do social work." You have that one track mind on what it looks like, and then you get into it and I found that it's exactly right up my alley. There's so much more than just dealing with somebody's mind outside of the psychology of it.

Greg Lindberg:
Right. Very good point. Okay. Dawn, I understand on that you also attained another degree, a Master's from us, correct?

Dawn Farrier:
I do. I actually graduated in 2016 with my Master's in Criminal Justice, but funny story, just like Christina and Samantha, my actual undergrad is from Troy University. I was actually in my job field at the time and my husband had completed his education and he's like, "Why don't you go back to school? Get your degree," whatever, and he's like, "You should go into social work." And I was like, "No, I'm not going into social work. That's not where I'm going." Well, my undergrad's actually in political science and business. My idea of getting the Criminal Justice Masters was going in and staying in the criminal justice field, doing government. I actually was a graduate enrollment counselor for Saint Leo. I would counsel students doing the Criminal Justice Social Work program. And a couple of times my teammates had stopped me and asked me why didn't go into the Master's Social Work program because I was so passionate explaining the program or talking to people about awesome the program was. One day I was like, "You know what? It really is." So here I am. And that's where we are.

Greg Lindberg:
Right. Very interesting. I'm so fascinated by all the students and alumni I get to talk to and their journey to Saint Leo and even the three of you, it's a perfect example of how everyone has their own unique path and how they discover the school and the same programs and whatnot. So I appreciate that insight. Let's talk about the format of the program and the specific track that each of you took. Samantha, if you could just speak about the format and the convenience of the program for you.

Samantha Dunn:
Yeah. So I'm in the two-year program and I really enjoy that. It's not traditional online in what I was accustomed to in my undergrad program. I think everyone that's in college has experienced an online class at least once and you have to do the online chats and respond to a friend and move on with your life. I felt like that was not the best way for me to really engage and take in information. But, this program is not like that. It's a lot more like being in a traditional classroom in that you get to see the people that you're engaging with and you get to talk to your professors and it's like a leveled up version of an online class. To me, that was awesome because it gave me enough to stay engaged with the information and also to really meet my peers and to know them and to feel like I was participating in a program, not just on my own, trying to make it through. So I really felt supported by my classmates and by the professors in a way that I don't think I could have if it was provided in a different format.

Greg Lindberg:
Right. That is interesting. Like you were talking about, the disparity, the difference between the undergrad program that you had done and this one. So I appreciate that. Christina, how about your experience and then the track that you chose?

Christina Senn:
So I too am on the two-year track and there's enough flexibility with this program, whether it being online, but yet enough structure to keep me in line and keep that organization that some people need. I know I was a brick and mortar type college student for a long time and it took a little bit getting used to the first time around, the virtual platform, and Saint Leo's platform was definitely, like Samantha talked about, engaging. You get to have those conversations with your peers and your professors. We engage outside of just the normal online classrooms. You do feel like you're a part of the program and it still gives me enough room to be able to do the things I need to do in my life as a parent. I still have to make sacrifices on time, but there's enough room there that you can maneuver around.

Greg Lindberg:
Right. Very nice. Dawn, talk to me about your track and your experience.

Dawn Farrier:
So I'm on the three-year track. So not having that background in social services or human services and then working full time, this one was able to accommodate what my needs were. And again, just following up with what Samantha and Christina said, the platform and the format that is provided for Saint Leo, you have the flexibility. You have the ability to be in class anywhere. I've been on vacations. I've been on runs. We travel a lot. I've been at conferences. I was at the birth of my grandson and still was able to be on the classrooms, engaging with my classmates. For me, I've had brick and mortar. I've had online, like Samantha said, with that answer your [inaudible 00:16:35] and do your paper, answer your classmates. This is more intimate to me because you do get that face to face with the classroom. You do get the cohort, which is really, really good. For me, I don't have to go to a class and be one of 25, 30, however big the classes are. It's a smaller venue to where you can form friendships and in three years, I think that I bonded with many of my classmates.

Greg Lindberg:
Nice, very well said. Let's dive into some of the specific courses offered in this program. Samantha, talk to us about any memorable courses, any classes that you really enjoyed that really stood out to you.

Samantha Dunn:
I have to say that I feel that all of the classes that have been offered has been really phenomenal and really added to my knowledge base in a way that was important. I was in psychology in undergrad, so I had more of that psychopathology base, so I did enjoy the psychopathology class. I enjoyed the child and human development classes, but for me, the most memorable classes were the macro level classes. How to build programs, how to engage in some more in depth research with those, because I hadn't really done that and I think that macro level practice is a really important part of what makes social work different as a field from other counseling programs. So I really appreciated those courses in particular.

Greg Lindberg:
Gotcha. Nice. Christina, how about you? Any classes that have really stood out and made a positive impression on you?

Christina Senn:
Well, of course the psychopathology probably was one of the favorites just because I was able to delve in, but the one that I think impacted me the most and that I wasn't expecting was my policy class. Coming from that psychology background, you deal with the mind, you don't really think necessarily outside of the client so to speak, as far as like advocacy work and that policy work. That particular class was one I went into and was like, "I don't know about this." We're dealing with legislature and all these things, and I'm like, "That's not me". Then was able to attend some things that went along with the policy class and was like, "Oh, wow. Yes, this is exactly what I want to do." I'm able to learn about speaking up for people that don't have those voices and getting in at the ground levels and dealing with people with policy. So that policy class was probably the most impactful for me. Research, however, in psychopathology are my heart as well.

Greg Lindberg:
Right. Interesting. Dawn, as far as your coursework, talk about what has stood out to you.

Dawn Farrier:
Well, since I get to go last, I get to piggyback on everybody. So I have to agree with Christina again, coming from government and my political science, I think policy and research. Along with that came LEAD, which I don't know how many of my fellow students have engaged or been able to do that, but that's an extra thing for us social workers meeting in Tallahassee or DC, the state and the United States. So you have your state and then you have all of the states meeting so you get to see how and what your impact is at that level in government, in bringing your social work aspect into that. So that was really memorable to me.

Greg Lindberg:
Right. I see. Very nice. Let's move on to the instructors that we have in the program. I know we have instructors with quite a nice variety in terms of their background and experience. Let's start with Samantha on this one, any specific professors that have really made an impact on you and stood out?

Samantha Dunn:
All of the professors are great. I haven't had a single professor that I dislike or that I didn't get along with, but I have three in particular that have been phenomenal. The first one is Dr. Campbell and I'm not just saying that because he's here. I really appreciate the way that he delivers the information. I've had several classes with him now, and I just feel like it's great information and it's delivered in a way that's easy to understand and easy to remember and easy to learn. All of the conversations are really engaging and I really loved that. I also hugely admire Professor Ruegg. She has such great experience and she's so challenging, but I feel that she really drives you to do better and to know the information in a way that you need to be able to when you're doing this professionally. So I've worked with her in a couple of classes and on some projects and I just really can't say enough about her. Also, Dr. Lucio. I've only had one class with him, unfortunately, but I was able to participate in the LEAD event that Dawn mentioned and his enthusiasm is absolutely... It catches. And even though it was just one class, I learned so much from him and it was a huge impact on me. So definitely I appreciate what he's brought to this program field.

Greg Lindberg:
Excellent. Very nice. Dawn, I know you kind of touched on this question earlier, but talk about other faculty and how they've really stood out to you in the program.

Dawn Farrier:
I have three as well for specific reasons. Dr. Anyikwa was the first statistician and research professor that I had that made it to where it wasn't completely frightening or that I had to go, "Oh my God, it's stats, I can't... I don't even know." And she has such a presence and such a delivery that it was like, "It'll be okay." Dr. Lucio has been my student advisor throughout the entire program, so I've had classes with him. His enthusiasm, bringing research, bringing government and blending my passion from the government aspect in the social work, allowed me to see how that can blend and make a whole. And then again, not just because he's in here, but Dr. Campbell. He's been both my daughters' and my professor. Again, his delivery is very down-to-earth. It allowed me to see social workers, not as this cookie cutter, rainbows and unicorns, but real people that you can just engage and have conversations with people and help them to where they can understand and enjoy just hearing what you have to say.

Greg Lindberg:
Okay, excellent. Christina, how about you?

Christina Senn:
Okay. So that's like asking a parent, "Which one is their favorite kid?" They're favorites for different reasons and they're all favorites. However, I do have a few that were impactful and most of them were already named by my colleagues and Professor Ruegg is one of them for psychopathology. For me, it was hardcore, I think, but she challenged you and pushed you and made sure that you knew the knowledge that you needed before we left that class and I appreciate that type of professor. And again, with Dr. Campbell, he does, he breaks everything down into language that we understand, and it's not over our heads and it's very laid back and it just flows so easy. Even on some of the research type stuff I did with Dr. Anyikwa, she made it easy, but he made it easier to understand as we walked through the different portions of research. Dr. Lucio is that government policy person that combines and integrates the social work with the government side of it and he does it with ease, it feels like, and pretty much tells you like it is. You're not going to walk away with anything sugar coated, and you're going to get the education that you want out of these professors, all of them at Saint Leo.

Greg Lindberg:
Right. Very nice. Appreciate that insight. Let's move on to the career side of things. Obviously one will attend college, whether it's for undergrad or for a graduate degree in hopes of either starting a new career or advancing in a career and really looking for that practical experience and insight from the program of their choice. So Samantha, let's start with you. How has this MSW program positively impacted you already in your career and maybe kind of looking down the road as well?

Samantha Dunn:
In so many ways. I think the first one is just the quality of education. I remember walking into my internship in my first year, and just having this feeling of like, "Oh my gosh, what am I doing? I can't give therapy. Like, I'm not a therapist who am I kidding?" I feel like now, by the end, this program has really encouraged me and educated me to a place like, yes, I can do this. I know that I can be a therapist and I'm not going to do a disservice to my clients, which is a really empowering sort of feeling.

Samantha Dunn:
I like that I now feel prepared to do that, but I really like that I feel prepared to do that for a variety of different clients and in a variety of different settings, which is something you don't really get in other fields. There's a lot of flexibility and I feel like I can help clients wherever they are and at different levels. I can help them as a therapist. I can provide advocacy for my clients. I can engage in changing legislation. So it feels like a world of possibilities is open as far as what can I not do because of this program.

Greg Lindberg:
Wow. That's great. Christina, talk about the impact on your career.

Christina Senn:
So the program's led me on the path that I wanted to go on too as far as dealing with veterans and military. That's something I've been surrounded with my whole life. So it's led me to that direction. It's also helped impact me in being able to engage with my local community, with different populations, not in the military or not veterans, and really being able to see the broader picture and bring it all together and self-reflect, as I've gone through the journey through school. It's helped hone the skills that I already had and one of the things that we've talked about before, at least a few of us in my cohort, is that whole imposter syndrome and feeling like, okay, we're walking out. Is this who we really are? We've done the work and this program helps build that confidence level going into the career that I'm going into. Walking out into that social work field.

Greg Lindberg:
Right. I see. Very nice. Dawn, in terms of the program and its impact on your career. Talk to us about that.

Dawn Farrier:
So my colleagues pretty much summed it up and it's difficult to add to that. I think that this program's empowered me with advocacy ability in my current job doing program management. In the grant world, it's given me insight on how to collect data, what data needs to be done, what my clients need, integrating different areas. Even now with COVID and everything else, it's allowed me to see our world in different lenses and venues and seeing that there's people and demographics that are impacted that we're not even touching as a society, which leads me to think bigger on what can I do or, like, I think, Samantha said, what can't I do once I finish.

Greg Lindberg:
Right. Okay. I just have one final question here for the three of you. I know you've definitely given such great insight and I really appreciate all that and this probably has already been answered somewhat, but just in general terms, why would you recommend this program to a prospective student considering a Master of Social Work? We'll start with Samantha.

Samantha Dunn:
Absolutely go for this program. It gives you all the tools that you need. It's accessible. It's as flexible as a Master's program can be, I think. Right now the world needs a lot more social workers. So definitely I would recommend this program.

Greg Lindberg:
Nice. Christina, how about you?

Christina Senn:
Again, it's the flexibility of the program. As much as it's structured, it's a program that you will be supported by not only the cohort you end up with, you have faculty and professors that are there, and there are so many things, even outside of the program, like the classroom that you can get involved with as well through Saint Leo to get the experience and exposure within social work. It really does give you a well rounded experience.

Greg Lindberg:
Okay. And Dawn?

Dawn Farrier:
Sure. If I can have a moment, I think that as my colleagues said that this program affords the opportunity for flexibility, for personal growth, support and it just provides the ability to move forward with the understanding and the security that we're going to go out there. We are social workers. We're going to go out and change lives and just do things. It's going to be awesome.

Dr. Michael Campbell:
Thanks, Dawn. It's interesting. When Greg reached out to me to get some feedback about our program and intuitively the first thing that I suggested that we do is invite students to tell the story. Because I think from a student perspective, it's much more valuable. You guys are living the graduate student experience and for someone who's interested in pursuing a Master's degree in social work, I think you guys told the story well. It's a graduate program. You're expected to do work beyond that which you would have done in an undergraduate program, but all of that's with the intent to try and prepare you to be practitioners in the field. It's heartening for me to hear that you guys feel like you're moving in that direction and I think oftentimes in classes, we talk about how the profession of social work is not done when you get the degree. We continue to learn well beyond graduation.

Dr. Michael Campbell:
I was taking notes as you guys were talking about things I might want to fill in and I thought you guys really told the story. One of the aspects of our program that I would like to highlight, Greg, and a colleague of ours coined the term, that our MSW program is high tech, high touch. So it offers you the benefits of an online program and the benefits of a brick and mortar grounded program in that you have the capacity to engage the content and the information electronically, so you never have to leave your home or area where you've got good wifi service. But we also don't sacrifice the connections that you get in a brick and mortar grounded program, because our program has an expectation that you meet for classes at assigned times and you will get to know your faculty and your cohort and your peers.

Dr. Michael Campbell:
So if anyone is interested in the Master's in Social Work program, we would encourage them to apply. We have classroom experiences that we believe will prepare you to be good students. Outside of the classroom, we have opportunities for you to learn either through the LEAD experiences, as student talked about, the Legislative Education and Advocacy days in local and federal government learning on-sites. As well as field education, which is the signature pedagogy of social work. You have an opportunity for extended job interviews and field placements, where you work in agencies and work with clients that you will work with in the profession. A combination of those classroom-based experiences and those infield experiences help prepare Samantha and Christina and Dawn to leave us and go on and be the change that they want to see in the world. So we're thrilled to hear them talk about that.

Dr. Michael Campbell:
We appreciate you giving us an opportunity to tell other students who might be interested in social work profession that we're much more than just working case management related functions. We've got clinical functions and policy functions and research functions that help you to be a well rounded clinician when you graduate.

Greg Lindberg:
Absolutely. Very well said, Dr. Campbell. All right. Well, I want to thank each of you, Dr. Campbell, Samantha, Christina, and Dawn. Really appreciate the time here on the Saint Leo 360 podcast. Again, I thought she all gave some great insight and great perspective into this MSW program here at Saint Leo University. So thank you all so much for joining us.

Dr. Michael Campbell:
Thanks, Greg.

Speaker 1:
To hear more episodes of the Saint Leo 360 podcast, visit saintleo.edu/podcast. To learn more about Saint Leo's programs and services, call (877) 622-2009. Or visit saintleo.edu.

Episode Summary

In this episode of the Saint Leo 360 podcast, we have a roundtable conversation on the Master of Social Work degree program at Saint Leo University. We are joined by Dr. Michael Campbell, the associate director of graduate studies in social work at Saint Leo University, along with three students from the Master of Social Work program. The topics covered include:

  • Dr. Campbell’s overview of the Master of Social Work (MSW) degree program, as well as its flexibility for all types of learners
  • A brief bio about each student (Samantha Dunn, Christina Senn, and Dawn Farrier)
  • What each student studied as an undergrad and how they were led to study graduate-level social work at Saint Leo University
  • The students’ favorite instructors and courses in the graduate program
  • How the MSW program has positively impacted each student in their careers
  • Why the students would recommend the Master of Social Work program at Saint Leo University

Links & Resources

Recent Episodes

Subscribe to Email Updates

Request more information