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College of Social Work

Ansley Hardeman Jackson - Class of 2024

A familiar figure around Hamilton College (along with her dog, college mascot and therapy dog Beau), Ansley Jackson is a go-getter whose academic excellence and community engagement garnered her the 2024 MSW Columbia Student of the Year Award. This fall she heads off for a new experience – a doctorate in social work. Here’s more of her story.

Major: Master of Social Work and graduate studies certificate degree in drug and addiction studies

Hometown: Athens, Georgia

How USC changed my life: Academically, it provided me with a rich and rigorous learning environment, where I gained invaluable knowledge and skills. The diverse community at USC exposed me to different perspectives, broadening my worldview and fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of culture. Beyond academics, USC has offered countless opportunities for personal growth and development through its extracurricular activities, leadership programs, and community service initiatives. The supportive faculty and staff have served as mentors, guiding me through challenges and encouraging me to reach my full potential. Overall, my experience at the University of South Carolina has been transformative, equipping me with the tools and confidence to succeed in both my personal and professional endeavors.

I would encourage them to embrace every opportunity for growth and exploration. Educational pursuits are not just about academics; it's also about discovering passions, building relationships and exploring new interests. I also would advise them to prioritize balance and self-care. While it's important to work hard and strive for success, it's equally crucial to take breaks, prioritize mental health and maintain a healthy balance between academic, social and personal life.

Advice for incoming students:
Beau therapy dog
Beau, the college mascot and therapy dog

What I’ve learned about myself: The importance of self-discipline and time management. Balancing academic responsibilities, extracurricular activities, social engagements and personal commitments demanded a high level of organization and prioritization. I now maximize productivity while still allocating time each week for self-care.

What played a role in my success: I was a graduate assistant for the Student Services Department and the Practicum Education Office. Being a graduate assistant has been a fulfilling experience that has enhanced my academic and professional growth while allowing me to make meaningful contributions to the university community. My mentors in these roles are Sonya Singleton, Kimberly Crawford, Avril Lail and Rhonda DiNovo. Each of these mentors possess the ability to inspire, guide and empower others. They each exemplify the qualities of leadership, integrity and perseverance and have made my experience at USC incredibly meaningful. I was also a member of the Phi Alpha Honor Society and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD). As a member of these organizations, I found myself immersed in a community of motivated and intellectually curious peers, alongside dedicated faculty and staff.

A favorite memory: As I met with my new supervisors and colleagues on my first day at my practicum placement at Wil Lou Gray Opportunity School, I was overwhelmed by a tremendous sense of accomplishment and pride as I began my practice experience within the social work profession. Not only did I gain valuable hands-on experience in the field, but I also developed important skills such as time management, critical thinking and effective communication. This moment solidified my passion for the industry and gave me the confidence to tackle future projects with enthusiasm and determination.

What’s next: I have been accepted into the University of Kentucky's Doctorate of Social Work program and am excited to delve deeper into my passion for social work and further specialize in areas of clinical research and practice.

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