Social work isn’t what you might think, and the students pursuing social work degrees through Boise State’s School of Social Work are as different as their passions and goals for their lives and futures. That’s a very good thing – the challenges they face in their internships, graduate assistantships and coursework show just how needed their perspectives and skills are.
Here’s a sneak peek at the “social workers” of the future (spoiler alert: The term hardly captures the range of what they’re interested in – and what they might accomplish.)
Second-year master’s student
Kate Hall, who was raised in Emmett, Idaho, graduated from the University of Idaho with areas of focus in sociology and justice studies and was accepted into the Boise State social work program, both in spring 2020. In very short order, she had also landed a graduate assistantship – she has now had two – and her internship.
“It all came together really well,” she said.
It’s been an exciting chain of developments for a woman who was well on her way to becoming … a park ranger with a social work degree (“That was my mindset”). Or maybe an attorney, having taken the LSAT.
“I was lining up to be a lawyer.”
There is, in fact, an underlying pattern.
“I always knew I had a passion for people,” she notes.
Hall has not wasted a minute in the social work program, squeezing the juice out of every experience. In her first graduate assistantship, she worked with Associate Professor Jill Chonody on a paper, “Stress During COVID-19: The Role of Fear and Health Across Age Groups,” that was accepted for the Council on Social Work Education Annual Program Meeting. Another graduate assistantship was with Assistant Professor James Beauchemin and Danya Krueger, a University Health Services counselor and licensed clinical social worker, conducting a needs assessment under the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare that explored gaps in child welfare services. She completed that in the summer of 2021, at the same time taking summer courses and serving as a park ranger at Timpanogos Cave National Monument in Utah.
Hall credits the accessibility of faculty members and the welcoming environment among cohort members – students are organized into small groups of about two-dozen with whom they proceed through the program – for her satisfaction with the Boise State master’s experience.
Last year’s cohort was particularly close because of the pandemic, and concentrated on learning together and staying in contact with one another, she noted, adding that the group shares resources and notes and continues to be of significant support.
“The cohort’s gotten me through,” she said. “It’s been great.
“I feel like here it’s a safe spot to reach out for help. That has been really beneficial,” she said. Of Chonody, Hall said, “I’ve learned a lot from her.”
So the program was working for her well before she fell in love with her internship and the kids she has had the chance to work with. Her placement is with Molly and Me Counseling, a child counseling and play therapy practice in Boise.
“I like working with youth and that took me by surprise,” she said. “My favorites are the 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds.”
Boise State social work students, more than most, see the need to find a deeper value to the studies and the work, and Hall is no exception.
“I think it’s really important to find your niche,” she said. “I just kind of hit this internship and I was like, ‘Whoa, that’s the purpose.’ When I found that niche, I was like, ‘Oh, I’m going to work with kids.’”
She expects to stay with the internship and believes a permanent job is likely to open up. Boise State social work graduates have proven very hirable, given the type of people they are and the tools, including the skills learned through internships, that they have learned and practiced.
Some things seem clear. She’d like to stay in Idaho and she knows she has a bright future.
“I’m pretty situated as local,” she said. “The social work program is good because there’s such a range. You can do macro work if you want to. You can pick up and change. Boise State gives you that ability to explore.”