Skip to main content
online degree program - how online learning works
educating armed forces and veterans
Contact Admissions for how to enroll at Saint Leo University.
Contact Admissions to discuss financial aid options.
Click here to schedule a campus visit!
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 37: Dr. Amina Abdullah on Saint Leo's Human Services Program

Posted by Greg Lindberg on June 8, 2021
Podcast-Episode-37-BA-Human-Services

Download Episode 37 Transcript

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. This is your host here, Greg Lindberg. On this episode of the Saint Leo 360 podcast, we are speaking about the bachelor's in human services program here at Saint Leo University. And to help us do so, we have a great guest joining us here on the podcast. Her name is Dr. Amina Abdullah. And she's the chair of undergraduate human services here at Saint Leo. And she's also an assistant professor of human services here at Saint Leo University. Dr. Abdullah, welcome to the podcast.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
Well thank you for having me today, Greg.

Greg Lindberg:
So first off, Dr. Abdullah, if you could just give a brief bio of yourself, your background, your practical experience, and then we can dovetail into how you got into teaching and how long you've been with Saint Leo.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
Oh, okay, thank you. Well, I do have a PhD in human services, as well as over 20 years of practical experience working in the human services field. Currently, I'm the chair for the human services undergraduate program, however, I do teach undergraduate and graduate level courses. As far as how I started with Saint Leo, I started off as a adjunct teaching business courses. I have a master's degree in business as well. So once I discovered that there was a human services program, I reached out to the chair at that time. Her name was Dr. Kinsella, to inquire about expanding the program in my region.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
So from there I was moved into a lead position under the human services program. So I have served in a variety of roles since coming to Saint Leo University. In addition to being an adjunct, I moved up into a regional academic director position, as well as assistant professor, and at one point, I was the associate chair before becoming the chair for the program.

Greg Lindberg:
I know you did reference the master's in human services administration program as well that Saint Leo also offers. But I understand that we did launch this bachelor's program initially, correct?

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
Yes. The bachelor's program was around several years before the graduate program came aboard.

Greg Lindberg:
I see, very interesting. And let's talk about where exactly this program is offered.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
So the program, it's offered online and at several education centers in Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida. For those of you who may not know, the human services field, it's one of the fastest growing professions according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. In essence, human services is professionals ... The field itself is meant to assist individuals, children, families, and seniors, as well as minorities, special groups, and populations. So professionals who are working in the field, they learn a broad variety of helping skills, case management functions, and intervention practices that they can use to assist clients who are in need to overcome obstacles and gain access to service.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
So one of the things about our program, Greg, is that it's considered an applied science. And with that, I mean that the students, the knowledge that they gain while they're in the program, that they have the opportunity to apply that through field placement. And then that allows them to gain practical experience when working in the field. So that makes them job-ready when they graduate with their undergraduate degree in human services.

Greg Lindberg:
Right. I see. And then so just to reiterate, so we do offer multiple options, whether a student is interested in taking this program at one of our education centers in the three states that you mention, or they can do it fully online as well, correct?

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
Correct, yep.

Greg Lindberg:
Nice. I'm sure that gives a lot of flexibility, a lot of options, obviously depending on the type of student interested in this program. And let's get a little more into that. Talk to me about just the prospective student out there who might be interested in this program, what kind of background would they have. Is it traditionally the more so right out of high school, so to speak, traditional student? Or do we also have a fair amount of adult learners as well?

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
That's a great question. You got some really good questions today, Greg. So just to kind of mention again that because it is a helping profession, that the program is really designed for anyone who has it within their nature where they know that they want to help others. So if you find that people are drawn to you to discuss their problems, or if they just like talking to you because they tell you, "You're such a good listener. I can come to you and share things and get some advice, or you'll listen to what I have to say." Then the human services program is definitely for you.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
But within our program, our students, they tend to be adult learners who maybe have had some experience working in either other professions, or maybe volunteering within their community, at their church, or maybe they may even have some blemishes on their background, their background record. And so they're wondering, "What could be a profession that I could work in that I could actually utilize, develop and utilize this innate nature that I have within myself for wanting to help people?" Well, human services is the program that's designed to do that, because within the program, you're going to learn a wide variety of not only skills, but functions that are in high demand.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
As I mentioned before, it is one of the fastest growing professions. Our goal is to work ourselves out of jobs, however, it's unfortunate that's just not going to happen because needs just continue to grow, whether it's situational from something with the client, or just something that happens due to a natural disaster, or something that happens within society, especially look at right now with what's happening with COVID. So basically, I mean if you just have that innate nature that you want to help others, the human services profession is the profession for you.

Greg Lindberg:
Let's dive a little further into the topics, the courses, just the specific aspects of this curriculum and what students can expect in this program.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
Okay. And our program, once again, it's interdisciplinary, which means that students who enroll in the human services program, their education is going to consist of completing courses from a variety of disciplines. So there are 10 major core courses. Those consist of the introduction to human services, which that's our foundation course that gives the background for the human services, how it was started and some of those initial skills and functions that fall in with the program, as well as we have our group dynamics course.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
The group dynamics course is going to reinforce some of the skills that you initially learn about in that introduction to human services courses. But the focus of that is really to learn how to set up a group, like a support group, not only set it up, but to be able to facilitate it. So it really gets into those concepts of forming a group, so the stages of that an individual will go through when they're forming a group. as well as we have two research courses, quantitative and qualitative research; a social policy course, where it looks at how social policy, how legislation, how it cam impact ... The legislation, how it can impact what happens within the community, and therefore affects the members of the community to potentially create additional needs, as well as how to service those needs. So it can have a dual impact, how legislation comes from government office.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
In addition, we have our human services administration course. The human services administration course, it's really a good course because it looks at the structure of human services organizations, and how the operations would be for those organizations as far as the services that they provide, the programs that they provide, the clients they serve, the type of funding that they seek. And this course, one of the reasons I really want to emphasize and highlight this course is because if you're interested in pursuing your master's degree in human services administration, this is kind of one of the foundation courses for that program. So it's going to give you that introduction and just highlight some of the things that the graduate program takes a deeper and more in-depth look at. So I definitely want to highlight that one.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
Now, in addition, the students, they complete field placement, two field placements. The field placements, those are an opportunity for the students to apply the knowledge that they've learned in the program while in field placement. And so that's a great experience for them as well because the time that they spend in field placement, not only does it provide you with an opportunity to expand on your academic learning, but it also helps you to develop your professional self, which we know is very important for students as they're graduating and they're looking for those career opportunities.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
In addition, the field placement, this is something that students can place on their resume. And that's something I'll go over a little bit later. But they can place that field placement experience, as well as the hours. Just think about all the employees that you meet while you're in field placement, so there can be some opportunities there as well, that networking through field placement.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
And then the last human services course is the senior seminar course. And that's basically the capstone course where that encapsulates everything that you've learned throughout the program. And then at the end of that, the students, they take a final exam that's based on all of their coursework. But the other courses that they take in addition to the human services courses that I mentioned were the interdisciplinary part were the sociology, psychology, criminal justice, and social work courses that students take as well. I'm not sure if I mentioned those, so I just wanted to make sure I recapped on them just in case I didn't.

Greg Lindberg:
And I was curious as far as the field placement coursework and that requirement, I would imagine that the faculty do work with students as far as finding those opportunities?

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
That's a great question as well. Yes, we do. We work with the students to help them secure their field placement. The field placement is offered once per year, and that usually runs from January until May. So what we do is we host field placement prep sessions in the fall. During the field placement prep sessions, we meet with all the students who are eligible for field placement to help them to locate a field placement that meets not only the program requirements, but our accrediting body, their requirements as well. So that's a very important piece of the structure of the program, this field placement prep, because it's not an actual course that students earn credit for, but it is important that they participate in these sessions, because this is what's actually going to help to guide them through that process of identifying a field placement that not only meets what they're potentially looking to hopefully do as a career path.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
One of the things I always share with students is if you go through your field placement, and maybe it's something that you always thought you wanted to do, so you do your field placement in that area. Then you go to the field placement. Field placement can do one of two things. It can solidify that work that you wanted to do with that population maybe you want to serve, or it can help you determine, "Well, maybe I need to re-look at that. Maybe I can do that same service but maybe with a different population." So it can help you to fine-tune what it is that you're looking to do. And that's a great opportunity to be able to do that while you're in field placement. Because it is a learning experience for you. And by being able to explore with not only your field placement supervisor, but with the faculty as well, it can help you with decision making when it comes to the type of career that you want once you graduate from the program.

Greg Lindberg:
In terms of the faculty who teach in this program, talk to me about the backgrounds of the faculty. I would imagine we have a nice variety of individuals, both full time and adjunct, correct?

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
We do. We have faculty that consist of adjuncts and full time faculty members who teach for the program. And they're all educated and have experience in working in the human services profession. Just to give a little background on some of them, we have Dr. Boone-Thornton. She teaches with us and she has her doctoral degree in education and psychology. And then as well we have Dr. Maxwell. She teaches with us and her degree is in family. She specializes in family services. And then some of our adjuncts that teach with us, we have Dr. Tamika Lett. She teaches with us. As well as we have Dr. Charlene Cofield. So while we have a lot of our faculty members who do have their doctoral degrees, they also have a wealth of experience just from the work that they are currently doing working in the field.

Greg Lindberg:
Let's get into career opportunities. I know you were mentioning earlier about resumes, and certainly the field placement aspect, and how that can help students in terms of networking and what not. What are some specific examples of careers, of titles of jobs, let's say even that a graduate could attain with this degree.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
So for the human services degree in particular, what I usually do in reference to the type of positions that one can attain, because there are so many. There are so many positions that are related to the human services profession. So basically, human services touches many professions, but just to give you an idea of what some of them may be, we have the caretake specialists. We have case workers. We have referral specialists. We have family support workers, substance abuse counselors, probation officers, community outreach workers, mental health aides, client advocates, juvenile court support, gerontology counselors, child welfare specialists, unity and diversity managers.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
And some of the settings could be a hospital, nursing homes, transitional housing facilities, non-profit agencies, just general non-profit agencies, schools, colleges, different crisis centers, such as like a sexual assault center or a crisis hotline, health insurance companies, daycares, senior facilities, after-school [tiering 00:17:42]. But just to kind of ... What I was stating earlier, what I usually suggest is to go onto Indeed.com. Because Indeed, if you type in human services in the area where you live, it'll return, I'm sure, a nice list of career titles that are related to the human services profession. So you can actually see for yourself how many jobs that are out there under the human services profession.

Greg Lindberg:
In terms of graduate studies, I know I've referenced earlier the graduate program in human services administration that we offer. And I would imagine that we do have some students who complete both. I know that we also offer some opportunities to complete both of those degrees, perhaps in a shorter amount of time even than it would take in a normal setting. But talk to me about how this bachelor's in human services degree would prepare a student for a graduate degree program.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
Well, the human services, the undergraduate human services degree, what it's going to do is provide students by giving them a great foundation for the human services administration program. Just with the courses that I mentioned, the students would have knowledge from the ... Oh, and I just realized that I did forget one of the courses, our interpersonal helping skills course. I didn't mention that, and that's a very important course. So I'm glad you asked this question, because that just made me think about that.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
But that's where they're going to learn a lot of the skills that they utilize in the program. So they learn about case management functions there. They learn how to do referrals. They learn how to advocate. They learn how to do service delivery plans or individual service plans. They learn how to do assessments. They learn how to interview. So I mean, there is so much that is packed into that course that these skills are really going to be what help them when they go into that graduate course, in addition to the human services administration course.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
So while all of the courses are instrumental as a segue into the graduate program, some of the core courses associated with the program, they have more practices and policies that you would see in the graduate program as far as the graduate program focuses on running a human services organization. So you're going to know what the employees, what they actually experience. And sometimes, even at the undergraduate level, we've had some students who have ... It's not uncommon in a non-profit setting for workers to wear more than one hat. So we've had some students who've graduated from the program, and they're seeing this now as they're out there working in the field that they actually have to perform, when I say wearing more than one hat, actually doing more than one role. So the graduate program expands on that where it's going to show all those different roles that you may work in from either a management or administrative perspective when you're in the graduate program.

Greg Lindberg:
Right. I see. Very interesting.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
And then to tie it back to, because you did ask, I believe, about the accelerated options that we have. So to tie it back to those, we have two options available right now where you can earn your bachelor's and your master's degree within three to four years. Now, these options tend to be more feasible for our students who already have an associate's degree. And for the most part, the students in the undergraduate program, once again, they tend to be adult students. And the majority of them usually do have some type of associate's degree, or they've had prior college ... Some prior college where they have some credits that they can potentially transfer into the program. But we do have articulation agreements set up with some community colleges, so I would definitely encourage your listeners to ask about that and check on that because that's could help with the progress that you make through the accelerated programs.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
So the first one is a three-year program, it's a three-year option. And then the second one is a four-year option. So with the three-year option, you would basically complete your bachelor's degree in two years, and then the master's degree in a year, and then with the two plus two, that's the four-year option. You would complete your bachelor's degree in two years, or it may take two-and-a-half years, and then your master's degree in two years. And that just basically depends on how many students ... Excuse me, how many courses the student wants to take. So whether they want to take two courses at a time or one. And of course, we always recommend two because that's going to keep you on track as far as getting done in a timely fashion.

Greg Lindberg:
Sure. That's wonderful that we offer so many different avenues, options that a student can literally come in, and like you said, within three to four years, have both bachelor's and master's degree. I did want to ask a little more about, as far as careers, could you mention any specific alumni that we've had or you've just, in general terms, perhaps were some of our recent alumni from this bachelor's program who've actually gone on to in terms of careers?

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
Yes, we do. We actually have quite a bit that have gone on to have successful careers, whether they chose to continue their education and earn a master's degree, or some that have chose to apply for promotions at their current jobs. We've had a couple. We had one student, his name is Timothy Giles, he actually works for Eggleston in Virginia. During his field placement, one of the higher administrators was so impressed by his questioning and performance during field placement, that he actually created a position for him. So he is one of our success stories that we love to share.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
But we have Latiesha Handie. She graduated from the undergraduate program. She is now the director of unity for the City of Hampton. I mean, she's doing a phenomenal job. I get to see it day in and day out because I'm right here in Hampton. So I get to see exactly what she's doing. But she's doing a phenomenal job leading unity and diversity for the community members. One of the things she just recently set up was a community drive for the COVID vaccine, for members within the community. She had a great response to that. But I was on that email list as one of her contacts. So once again, like I said, I can actually see what she's doing because I receive the announcements, and sometimes, things are on the local news. So I get to see what's happening there.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
Then we have another student, her name is Xiomara Harris. She graduated the same year. Her and Latiesha, they graduated the same year. They were actually study buddies throughout the program. And Xiomara, I'm proud to share that she's the director of the assault center in Newport News, Virginia. She graduated with her undergraduate degree in human services, and both of them are planning on going back to obtain their graduate degrees. I just haven't talked them into it yet. But they said they want to do it. So I just try to stay behind them to remind them that it's only going to help them further their career path, because if there's other things that I know that they would like to do. So we're very proud of both of them, of Latiesha and Handie.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
But we have even Jay, Jay Brown. He works with veterans. He helps them to gain employment. So he works with the government doing that. And then we have Kendra Brown, she actually works with the government as well. I mean, I could go on and on as far as the students and what some of them are doing. We did have a couple of them, they came, we did a leaders in the industry panel. And a couple of them, they came to share their experience as far as what they learned in the program and how that's translating to what they're actually doing now that they're out in the field. And we have that link up on our website. So maybe that could be something that we could share at the end for those of you who may want to take a look to actually hear from those success stories of the alum who graduated from the program.

Greg Lindberg:
Absolutely. I can certainly put a link to that information in this podcast as far as the show notes for this episode, so would love to link to that as well. I know you did mention the COVID-19 vaccine and one individual assisting with that. I'm curious, in terms of the human services field in general, how would you say COVID-19 has changed the field, and perhaps opened the door to even more opportunities?

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
Yes. And once again, I always like to share. I mean, while the human services field does create opportunity, it's unfortunate that these opportunities are coming because of people tend to be at their lowest point, or that they have such need. But in essence, it's to be able to help people when they are in a crisis, or when they have a problem, or they just don't know where to turn. That work within itself is gratifying, to know that you're helping someone. So as far as the profession itself with COVID and how it's changed, I mean, not only has COVID changed the profession, but look at the wildfires out in California last year, what's going on right now with immigration at the borders.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
I mean, just speaking ... I could speak on that alone, how they need case managers down there to help process individuals who are crossing into the United States because of the overwhelming number of people coming across the border has increased [dramastically 00:29:33] over the past ... Or, excuse me, drastically over the past year. So I mean that has created the need for more individuals to be able to do that type of work. If you have a degree in human services from our program, you are going to have the skills to be able to go in and be able to do those jobs. So it's not like you're going to have to go through some full training to learn how to be able to interact with those individuals. You're going to have that once you graduate from the program.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
COVID itself, I mean we all know. Look at how many jobs were lost as a result of that. I can remember when the pandemic first started, the unemployment claims, they were just falling behind on them. They couldn't keep up with them. They didn't have enough workers to process them. So that was a need. They needed more individuals to help with processing benefit claims for unemployment. Then think of just even the wildfires out in California, people's homes that are burning down. Now they're displaced. Where are they going to live? Where are they getting food from? So you have a lot of the non-profit agencies, these are the ones that are showing up.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
I can recall in the news showing different agencies that came in, not only to provide tents and temporary housing for families who had no where else to go, but bringing clothes and food to like parking lots, just open parking lots, to be able to help them, just to be able to help people get by. And so these are some of the things that happen spontaneously. Even think of hurricanes, flooding. I mean, those just happen. I think it was Nashville just recently. But these things are ongoing. So they're not one-time episodes. Once again, it's unfortunate, but they're ongoing. And so this is what creates the need. This is where you'll find human services professionals.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
As well as there's been a rise of mental health issues with COVID, just from having to stay indoors. At one point, when everyone was on lock down, the majority of the states were on lock down and you couldn't interact with basically anyone outside of your household. That was the recommendation. So think of for those who live alone, and they aren't getting that social connection. Or even if you live with somebody, which you're still used to kind of getting out and having those social connections. And now that's impacting your mental health. There was a increase, a demand for individuals with the skills and could come in and help with providing service plans to help individuals who had these types of needs. So I mean it's very important work. I don't want to make light of it at all. It's very important work what human services workers do.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
Sometimes it's almost like you know it exists, but you don't realize that that's what it is, that that's what human services is until someone can paint that picture for you and actually share situations that a human services, where you may find a human services worker. But even with COVID and the kids, a lot of the kids were working, taking classes from home. The schools closed and the kids had to go home. So some of the school districts, they were having a hard time with getting the kids to log on and come into class. And so some of the school districts created jobs for student support services, where they had a whole team of individuals who would call the families, call into the home to see what type of support that the student needed to help them to get online. And if they couldn't reach them at home, then they would actually drive out. So they would drive out and knock on the door to see if they could get someone there.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
Because some of the kids just weren't showing up. And so that was affecting their attendance, and they were falling behind in their lessons. So I mean, I know some school districts, those are positions that were created as a result of COVID, just making sure the students had what they needed. And some of them were finding it was just something simple and technical. But because the students didn't know where to go, they just weren't logging on to the system. But then when the person, the support person showed up to help them, then now they were able to get in there. So then they could do their lessons and participate even in the classes that they were supposed to be in.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
So I mean, you can find human services professionals. I could go on and on with giving you examples. I worked in a hospital in my former life, as I like to say. But I could just give examples from the type of work that I did there. I know Dr. Boone-Thornton, she worked in public school. And we go into these situations. We talk about this when we're in class. So it's not that the learning is just from what's in your books. We are talking about what is going on around us, what's going on in our communities, what's going on across the nation, what is going on across the world. We bring that into the classroom. And I mean, it's just so relevant as to how all of these factors, how they impact people. And sometimes people, you just need help.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
I know I've seen on the news when there were individuals who said I could never see myself going to a food bank for food. I never thought this would be me. I thought this was always someone else. So I mean you just never know when it might be you. But to be able be on the side where you're being able to provide help to those who do have that need, it's just another level of being able to serve humanity.

Greg Lindberg:
That's great insight. And like you said, it's unfortunate, but it is just the reality that there's so many populations out there, so many individuals who need countless types of support. And it sounds like this program truly prepares a graduate to be able to tackle, to enter any of those situations, and lend a helping hand, and really enjoy a rewarding, satisfying career.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
Yes.

Greg Lindberg:
And just to wrap up our conversation here, just kind of summarize. Talk to me about what would you say sets this bachelor's in human services program apart from other out there?

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
I think what actually sets our program apart from some of the others is the support that's received from the faculty. I mean, there's a couple of things. But the support from the faculty, once again, we're not just educating you based on what's in a book. We are actually bringing those experience into the classroom and having that discussion with you. We want to see you earn your degree, so we're helping to keep you on track. We do these degree completion plans with students to help keep them on track while they're in the program, so then that way, they can see, from A to Z, if you take your courses in this order, this is when you'll be done and you'll earn your degree in the human services field.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
So I think that's one of the big factors is the fact that we do show up. In addition to that, we have so many opportunities built into the program for students. We provide workshops such as a APA workshop to help the students with their academic writing, because that is one of the things the students are expected to do when they're in their courses is to be able to demonstrate academic writing. And for some students, depending on when you graduated from college, or when you were in college, or maybe this is your first time in college, you just may not have that background, or maybe that wasn't how it was when you were in school. So we offer workshops to help get you acclimated to that, to help you develop your skills in that area. So that's one of the things we do.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
In addition, we offer role play session across the program where we encourage all the students ... Well, we invite all the students to come and participate in a role play scenario that we come up with for the program. So it gives you opportunity to be able to practice those interpersonal helping skills that we mentioned earlier, such as empathy, active listening, communication, building a rapport with a clients. So it just gives the opportunity to be able to do that. Interviewing skills, to practice those interviewing skills with the client, how to set goals with the client. So you learn all of these things as well. So we offer the role play to help reinforce that learning before you get to your field placement.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
And then some of the other opportunities that we have that are built into the program, we call those the resume builders. So with the resume builders, those are ... I think I mentioned one of them earlier through the field placement, that the students, they have a opportunity to put the field placement work and those hours on the resume. However, the technology and software that students will utilize while they're in the program, those are also things that they can place on their resume. So we definitely encourage to list those. We do some resume workshops to help you to prepare your resume to make sure that it's showcased in a order that is human services oriented, because that's the one thing that we always try to push.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
You want your resume to be human services oriented, especially for those who may not have a background in human services, or they may have little experience, and they're just not sure how to showcase that. So these resume builders that we have added into the program, in addition to the academic learning, they're really meant to provide a more solid overview so that your resume appears as human services oriented to someone that's looking at your resume.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
So one of the other things, of course, that we encourage with that is using terminology that's utilized in the human services field. So you're going to learn that as well. Then we have the student club. We have a human services club. And so all students, once they enter the program, they become part of the club. So you can either be a member or you can be a leader. We have leadership opportunities. We did just recently have a career services seminar that our human services leaders, that they led. And they presented material for that. That was just a couple weeks ago, and it was a great success. So there are opportunities like that as well. And that can be included on your resume.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
We have our honor society, which is the Phi Gamma Mu honor society. Now Phi Gamma Mu has been around for quite some time. And that is our academic honor society that provides students with the opportunity to be able to show their excellence in the social services field as far as scholarship, leadership, and service. That is by .. Invitation is by induction only, and it's based off of your GPA that you achieve while you're in the program. So that's something to take into consideration as well. And if you are inducted into the Phi Gamma Mu society, there's a opportunity for you to apply for a scholarship for graduate school. So that's great for individuals who want to continue on and earn a graduate degree. As well as you receive two job advance placement for when it comes to federal jobs. So you advance two levels on that.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
Then the other thing that we have associated with the program that's a great resume builder is the professional membership, a professional association, which is the National Organization of Human Services. The National Organization for Human Services, they set the ethical standards, which are our guiding principles for the profession. And when you join, we call them NOHS, when you join NOHS, you kind of get a two for one, because the student membership is at a discounted fee. But you gain entry into the professional association in your region as well. So like for myself, I'm part of the national organization, but then my regional affiliation is SOHS, the Southern Organization of Human Services. So it's like a two for one. You pay for one and you're admitted into two. So you can place both of those on your resume, which is excellent.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
And then through your membership, they have opportunities for job placement on their website, as well as they host a conference. It's a student-focused conference every year. And this year, it was virtual because of COVID, but they do plan to eventually go back to having them in person. Which when they were in person, what was nice about those is we would encourage all the students across the program to attend. So it would be an opportunity not only to meet other students in the human services program at Saint Leo University, but then you also get to meet other students from other universities who are in human services. So you can have those discussions about the similarities and the differences in their program structure, as well as you could be educators and practitioners who are working in the field at these conferences. So it just really promotes, this professional membership, it promotes partnership, collaboration, and awareness.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
So I mean, you can see there's a lot of great opportunities. We do volunteering in the program. We have some volunteering initiatives going on right now. We're doing a clean out the closet spring drive right now for the Goodwill. We did a food drive this past fall. And what's nice about that, even at a program is online, I mean, we are at the education centers as well. The education centers, they may do some similar club events, but there may be some variation. But for the online, we have to structure them so there's things the students can do regardless of what region you're in. So they're more focused on the larger non-profit organizations, like the one we're doing for the Goodwill right now.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
So we also do service learning trips. So the service learning trips that we've done in the past, the first one we did, we went to Bermuda. When we went to Bermuda, we met with the representatives at the Bermuda College, and we discussed our human services program and their human services program. There's was a little bit different than ours because their focus was on educating their learners to be teachers, because they found that that was the need that they had. That's one thing that human services workers do. You find out what the need is. And so their need was they needed more teachers on the island. But we came, I think, at a nice point and there development because they were about to change their curriculum because they realized they were about to meet that need. And they didn't need as many teachers. So they were changing their curriculum at that time. They were about to change it.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
As well as while we were there, we met with four non-profit agencies. And so we had meetings with them each day that we were there. And we did a volunteering event within the community as well. So I mean, that was a great time for students, as well as the faculty too. And it was a good learning experience. And then we've gone to Spain. And we were in the midst of planning a service learning trip for Costa Rica when the pandemic unfortunately came about. So we hope to resume this type of activities once things return to whatever normal's going to look like going forward. But I mean these are all things that we really feel set us apart, and it helps to set our students apart because they can list these all on their resume.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
And then, for these activities that they're doing that we're mentioning here, we always encourage them to keep a portfolio. Because that portfolio, that can be the one thing that helps you to stand out from another candidate when you're applying for a job. I've had students share with me they've shared their portfolio during an interview, and they really felt that that was the thing that helped them to stand out because the person interviewing them not only were now they stating some of the things that they did, they could actually show them. So they were showing them through their portfolio, and that was what made the difference for them.

Greg Lindberg:
Right. Wow. Like you said, it's amazing all the different opportunities and everything. And I know we were talking about the different courses in the program earlier. But wow, there's so much beyond that, and so many reasons why someone out there listening to this should seriously consider this program.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
Thank you.

Greg Lindberg:
No, that's very well said, everything you stated. And I can certainly include a link to the program page in the show notes for this episode, in addition to some links to some other information that we also spoke about. So once again, we've been speaking with Dr. Amina Abdullah. And Dr. Abdullah, just want to thank you so much for joining me here on the podcast. Really appreciated your time and insight.

Dr. Amina Abdullah:
Thank you for having me, Greg. It was such a pleasure speaking with you.

Speaker 1:
To hear more episodes of the Saint Leo 360 podcast, visit SaintLeo.edu/podcast. To learn more about Saint Leo's program's and services, call 877-622-2009, or visit SaintLeo.edu.

Episode Summary

In this episode of the Saint Leo 360 podcast, our guest is Dr. Amina Abdullah, chair of the undergraduate human services degree program at Saint Leo University. Dr. Abdullah spoke about:

  • Her career background working in human services and how she got into teaching for Saint Leo University
  • Where the BA in human services degree program is offered and the flexibility of several modalities
  • Who this undergraduate program is intended for
  • An overview of the courses and topics covered in the curriculum
  • An overview of the experienced faculty who teach in this program
  • The variety of career opportunities graduates can pursue in the human services field with this degree
  • Pursuing a graduate degree program after completing this bachelor’s degree
  • Saint Leo alumni success stories of graduates who have earned this degree
  • What sets this program apart from others and the numerous unique opportunities available to students
  • How the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the need for human services professionals

Links & Resources

Learn more about this BA in Human Services degree program at Saint Leo University.

Listen to the 2020 Leaders in the Industry event with several alumni from this human services degree program.

pursue business degree

Recent Episodes

Subscribe to Email Updates

Request More Information