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College of Social Work

Student Spotlight: Sierra Abel

Oct. 1, 2019

Master of Social Work advanced year student Sierra Abel earned her undergraduate degree in communications. But a volunteer experience has led her on a path to a future social work career.

With a bachelor’s degree in communications and public relations, what inspired or motivated you to study social work?

I became a leader for a non-profit organization I volunteer for called Children with Diabetes. That organization inspired me to become a certified diabetes educator, so I began looking at programs and social work was highly advised.

Which class is having the most impact on your social work studies?

I am taking psychopathology and psychodiagnostics for children and adults. It’s having the most impact because I am learning about different mental diagnosis and how to assess them, which is very interesting coming from a non-social work background. 

What do you enjoy most about field education?

I like being able to take the things we learn in class, such as assessments, and apply them to real clients.

How has the College of Social Work faculty helped you overcome any challenges to help you best succeed?

I really appreciate how most of the professors’ care about what we have to say as students and how to make this program better for the future, especially when they let us talk in class about something that makes us go off topic.

What advice would you give someone considering studying social work?

If you don’t know how you can help change the world, social work allows you to make a meaningful difference in at least one person’s life. The professors who teach the curriculum have some pretty inspiring stories that make me want to continue this journey every day.

What do you enjoy most about living in Columbia and attending the University of South Carolina?

Columbia has so many hidden gems that I never knew about and the longer I live here, the more things I find. The school is great because there is always something happening on campus, and they really try to incorporate all students.

What are your post-graduation plans?

I plan to pass the licensure exam for social work and become a certified diabetes educator in hopes that I can work in a children’s hospital on the endocrinology floor.

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