Professor says teaching is a privilege

Professor Maryah Fram has a book in her office that she invites students to write in before they graduate, saying what they are going to do to make the world a better place.

It's just one of the ways she connects with her students.

Fram, an associate professor in the College of Social Work at the University of South Carolina, says although she gave up the "direct impact" of being a social worker, her job as a professor is just as rewarding.

"The fact that I get to be a part of this journey, where they get to go out and do great stuff, is what makes it worthwhile," Fram says. "It's very rewarding as a social worker and as an academic to be a part of those last moments."

For Fram, it's about connecting with her students. Her focus is social policy and teaching the Capstone class, a graduate-level class for students to apply what they've learned to real-life situations.

"The Capstone class is great because you have a chance to connect with students right before they enter the workforce, right at that moment they realize they know a lot and that they don't know enough," she says. "That moment is very exciting for a teacher."

That connection paid off for her when the Phi Alpha National Honor Society for Social Work honored her with an honorary membership.

"It was absolutely tremendous," Fram says. "There's a lot of awards that you can get professionally, but there is nothing that could mean more to me than an honor from my students saying that I've done something that's made a difference to them."

The Honors Society presents the membership annually to faculty for their work in the program and in the community.

And work in the community, Fram does.

She works with children in the community, focusing on childhood hunger and learning what children experience during food insecurity in order to study how it affects their development.

She says she is motivated to give children access to all of the healthy foods they need to succeed and thrive, even when their families aren't.

"The thing that brought me to social work and motivates all the pieces of work I do is that, in a country as rich as ours, no child's future should be determined based on how much money their parents make," Fram says.

While she calls her research "great fun," she says teaching is the high point in her life.

"I can go into a classroom feeling tired and frustrated but, by the time I'm done, I feel so energized by what the students bring to that environment," Fram says. "When you make space for that and engage students, it's really exhilarating and fun."

For her, it comes back to that love for connection and learning from her students. It's what drew her to becoming a professor. It's why she loves teaching.

"I care really deeply about kids," she says. "That's what brought me to the profession. Learning more about what will help kids, preparing students to work with kids, these are all really important things to me. My job is enormously fun. It's an incredible privilege to have a job where you're paid to think and to teach."

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To learn how you can help support Social Work professors and research, visit Carolina's Promise.

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