Rachel Floyd graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology from Winthrop University in 2018. After moving to Charleston and working at a pediatrician’s office, she realized her passion was to interact, learn and have a more in-depth relationship with patients and clients. Floyd researched opportunities to continue her education and is now pursuing a combination degree in social work and public health. While pursing her studies, she is also working part-time at St. Lawrence Place, a transitional housing facility in Columbia for families and their children.
Is there anything from your undergraduate studies that you have applied to your combination degree studies?
“I am currently taking a youth substance abuse course, and we have discussed all of the developmental aspects in adolescents. I had development courses for my psychology minor at Winthrop. Knowing the mechanism of why someone might behave or react in a certain way is nice to help me better understand how someone deals with addiction.”
What is most fulfilling about the combination degree program?
“Instead of only studying social work and realizing once I’ve started working professionally that public health might be beneficial, it's good to see the interconnectedness between social work and public health. For example, I’ll understand the roles of the social worker and the public health department. I may know how a project can be completed with a collaboration between social work and public health.”
Have you found connections between social work and public health?
“It was more about statistics in public health last semester, but I’ve found more connections this semester. Now, I am taking a programs class in public health which deals with starting up programs, writing up grants to get the funding needed, and other social-worked related aspects. I am also currently writing a proposal working with Adverse Childhood Experiences.”
Talk about your experiences at St. Lawrence Place.
“I had some availability in my schedule to work part-time and wanted to do something to further learn social work skills. I started working at St. Lawrence Place in the fall of 2019 and primarily work with the e-learning center and after-school program.
It was not too difficult building rapport with the children because once they know you, they are more comfortable talking and sharing things about their lives. Since I started working there, I've been able to have good relationships with the kids.”
How has your experience at St. Lawrence Place impacted you personally and your social work aspirations?
“It's given me a much stronger passion and drive to advocate for people because I completed a project in my research class last year on the benefits of after-school programs, specially for homeless populations. I'm doing another project on this topic for a different class, and it’s shown me just how much of a need there is to advocate for homeless populations and those in transitional housing.”
Based on your experiences, how would you respond to someone who thinks that social workers have limited opportunities?
“One thing that made me like this program even more is that social workers are everywhere. They are in schools, hospitals, nonprofit organizations, and nearly every environment in society. There's a need for social workers to play a role by having a different perspective and highlight how all the needs of an individual or family are important. It's something I previously did not consider as the role of a social worker.”
What are your future plans?
“I find everything unique and interesting, and I’m always interested in learning, so it’s hard for me to pick an area. I would love to work with people with disabilities in some capacity since I have always been passionate about that area for a long time, but otherwise I am interested in everything.”