Master of Social Work student Breeanna Thames knew as far back as elementary school that she wanted to be in a helping profession. Part of her motivation was from a counselor, who helped her overcome anxiety during tests and at other times, from first to fourth grade. Thames attended Florence-Darlington Technical College and received an associate’s degree in human services before earning her Bachelor of Social Work degree from Limestone College.
The Kingstree, South Carolina native intended to enter the College of Social Work’s Advanced Standing program in 2019. But she gave birth to her second child and did not believe she was prepared to manage classes and a newborn. Now as a current Advanced Standing student, she has learned to multi-task raising a family, classes and field education.
How has COVID-19 affected your MSW studies?
“The pandemic has actually helped me immensely because I live in Kingstree (approximately 90 minutes east of Columbia), married with two kids, intern, and work part-time. I would have made that drive back-and-forth, but it would have been inconvenient to be in Columbia from eight in the morning until nine at night. My field placement is in Sumter, and I work part-time at McLeod Regional Medical Center, which are both closer than Columbia. I’ve also had previous experience with virtual classes and done well for the most part.”
Is it challenging to juggle school, field, work, raising children, and other family responsibilities?
“I could not do it without family support. Some students don't have that, but my mother and grandmother are a huge part of my life. They take care of my children when they can, especially on Wednesdays since I have an 8 a.m. class. My husband’s hours vary because he owns his own business but helps when he can. They're my support team, and it would be impossible without them.”
What has been most difficult trying to manage education and family responsibilities?
“I still have difficulty with time management. While we were eating dinner together one time, my oldest daughter said, ‘Mama, I don't see you anymore,’ and that hurt my heart.
We had a roleplay shortly afterward in one of my classes, and we were supposed to make up a situation that we were going through. I chose depression because it's a common topic. It came up during our discussion, and I mentioned what my daughter said. I was asked how that made me feel, and I said that I felt like a bad mom. Then I burst out crying in the middle of our recorded role play and couldn't stop.”
Has this experience made you a better multitasker?
“You would think that I would not wait until the last minute, but I’m a terrible procrastinator. This may sound weird, but I do my best work when I'm under pressure. Even if I do my work one or two weeks before its due, I must finish my work, even if it means staying on the computer for seven to eight hours. That’s mostly because I have to do my work the one night my children are with my mom. I tell myself to get the work done, and I do it in one sitting.”
What trait have you developed during your studies?
“Perseverance, because of the life factors in general that will come up. Life is busy, and you must make sure education is a priority, or it will never happen, especially during a pandemic. It’s easy to say, 'Well, I'll just finish it off another year and maybe things will settle down by then.'”
What advice would you give someone who wants to attend school, while managing raising children and other family duties?
“It's temporary. Take advantage of the moral and family support you have, whether from your spouse, parents or friends. It's not a bad thing to take the help while you have it. Keep your faith, continue in prayer, and push forward.”