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College of Social Work

Student Spotlight: Katelyn Emberton

April 29, 2019
Chris Woodley • 

Katelyn Emberton is one of the many students who do not live in the Columbia area but can still enroll in College of Social Work courses. The college offers Master of Social Work classes for part-time students at the Lowcountry Graduate Center in Charleston and the University Center in Greenville. Emberton, who earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Central Florida and now lives in Greenville, will graduate next week with her MSW.   

What inspired or motivated you to study social work?

My inspiration has been a work in progress. I knew my passion was to work with people but didn’t know how. I spoke with colleagues, classmates and professionals in the field, and attended information sessions for counseling and social work programs. The diverse work environments and career opportunities with an MSW degree drew me to choosing social work. The people I meet daily and the knowledge gained has maintain my motivation.

How accommodating is the MSW program for students at the Greenville site

The Greenville site is a microcosm of the main University of South Carolina campus. Professors and staff in Greenville work diligently to communicate information from the main campus, connect students and supply valuable information to understanding topics. My circumstances are different from most students attending classes in Greenville because I commuted to Columbia for the first year of the program in order to be a full-time student. It was not easy, but I was in a place that allowed me that option.  

What class had the most impact on your social work studies?

I have enjoyed all my courses, but there are a few that have had the most impact. As prepared as you may believe you are to be a social worker, the diversity and social justice course truly opens your eyes to the “isms” our world faces and challenges your own personal biases. The rapport between students allowed for respectful discussions with uncomfortable topics. Since my chosen specialty is in health and mental health, I opted to take psychopathology and psychodiagnostics as electives. These courses assisted me in understanding assessments and interventions, while gaining a knowledge base to assist in field practicum. 

What did you enjoy most about field education?

My foundation year field placement was with the Greenville County School District. I not only enjoyed shadowing the district, but the Title 1 social worker. My advanced year placement was with the Bon Secours St. Francis Behavioral Health Program. I enjoy field because it allows me to be hands-on. I am a tactical learner and strive when I can apply classroom knowledge to real life experiences. Learning about the behavioral health program and integrative care model has been momentous to my growth in the health and mental health specialty.  

What advice would you give someone considering the College of Social Work program at one of our off-campus sites?

Be mindful. Consider the time you can fully devote to the program and weigh your options. Do you have a family? Do you work full-time? Where can you make changes but still maintain self-care? Talk with advisors and staff members from the College of Social Work. They are honest about your amount of work and very helpful in answering any questions.

What traits are necessary to be successful in a social work career?

Common and imperative traits necessary to be a successful social worker include, empathy, active listening, interpersonal and intrapersonal skills, critical thinking, and competency. Pride, professionalism and authenticity is also very important. We must take pride in our title, represent the profession and carry ourselves accordingly.

What are your post-graduation plans?

I plan to complete the licensure exam and begin working. I would be honored to be offered a position with my internship placement and hope to remain in integrative care for health and mental health.   

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