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College of Social Work

Five questions with BSW student Emma Pederson

1. You were elected to the NASW-SC Board. What made you want to run for the office?

At the start of my undergraduate experience, I struggled to find classes and clubs that aligned with my interests in both environmental and macro social work. I quickly realized that I was going to have to create these opportunities for myself and work to personalize my educational experience to match my interests. After starting a macro social work club at the college, I realized many other students felt this way as well, having a desire to include more class options that were not focused on therapeutic interventions. Hearing about the board position opening, I was inspired to run for office to be a voice for students who may have had a similar journey to mine, as well as expand my own insight into macro social work.


2. What do you hope to do or accomplish as a board member?

During my tenure I hope to show board members and others involved in SC-NASW the growing undergraduate student interest in macro social work including policy work, social movements and organizing and community mobilization. My ultimate goal would be to show others how much micro and macro social work collide - that they aren't two hugely different career paths. Another goal I have is to bring more awareness to environmental justice initiatives within the SC chapter of NASW as it is one of NASW's "social justice priorities”. I would love to be a part of creating some resources, activities and/or learning opportunities for SC-NASW members and SC BSW students.


3. What are your expected duties as a board member—any thoughts?

My expected duties as BSW Student Representative are to first and foremost represent to the board the issues and concerns of students and advocate on their behalf. In addition to that, I am also expected to attend all board meetings, serve on the Executive Committee, provide input about student affairs and participate in the decision-making processes to fulfill the mission of the chapter. It is also my responsibility to interpret board policies and decisions to members and relay the benefits of students becoming members of the NASW.


4. What are key challenges facing social workers in South Carolina?

I believe that the recent Supreme Court ruling to strike down affirmative action in higher education presents a challenge to social workers to advocate for social justice per the Code of Ethics. School social workers in South Carolina will have to work harder to ensure that there is equal access to resources and opportunities for all in higher education,

as well as work to oppose the expansion of anti-affirmative legislation at their colleges and universities.


5. And finally – why social work as your chosen path?

I have always had feelings of anger and disappointment about current systems in our country and social work has presented to me the opportunity to be a part of the work to change these systems, promote social justice and equality, and educate and empower communities to use their voices to promote positive change.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.