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College of Social Work


Alumni Spotlight: Elizabeth Polinsky, MSW '15

Nov. 8, 2018
By Chris Woodley, cwoodley@mailbox.sc.edu

After earning her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at El Paso, Elizabeth Polinsky, LISW-CP, moved east to attend the University of South Carolina College of Social Work. She not only earned her Master of Social Work degree but also a graduate certificate in Social Work with Military Members, Veterans and Military Families. Polinsky currently works as a social worker for the Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System: Joint Ambulatory Care Center in Pensacola, Fla. Earlier this year, she began her studies for a Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage and Family Therapy/Counseling from Northcentral University.

Why did you decide to study at the College of Social Work?

I originally chose the College of Social Work because of the variety of field placements that the college offered. This included unique policy-related field placements, since the school is in the capital city of South Carolina. 

What is your favorite memory of the College of Social Work?

My favorite memory is meeting my best friend on the first day of my first field placement at the Department of Social Services. The social work program brought together so many like-minded people, and I'm sure I will have some of these friends for the rest of my life. 

How did your field education help prepare you for your career?

My field placements allowed me to learn about program evaluation and professional writing for reports. I have been using skills learned from those placements to develop and evaluate programs at my job and write manuscripts for journals regarding our findings.

What interested you most in military social work?

I have had a long interest in military social work. My family on both sides has served in the military for generations, and my partner is in the military. Focusing on social work with military members, veterans and military families is my way to give back. 

What do you enjoy most about social work?

I love the variety of my work. Currently, I do psychotherapy with veterans, research and clinical training of new social workers. This is a perfect fit for me. I also know that I could jump into other areas of social work down the road if I wanted to. Having this variety is so meaningful to me. 

What advice would you give someone beginning their social work career?

I would tell someone to think hard about what it is you want to do. The world is so open to them with a social work degree. It is important to explore but have a vision of where you want to take everything you have learned to implement it. 

What do you think is one thing people do not understand about social workers or the profession?

People often think that social work is only case management. This is not that case. The reality is that an MSW degree helps you socialize into the profession, orients you to a common value system and teaches you valuable skills to implement in any job.