Empowering High Schoolers: A Social Work Honors Project Presentation

justice social work

Guess what?!? I did a thing! In January 2021, I returned to university after 30 years of being outside the formal classroom. In May 2023, I graduated with honors in the BSW program (Bachelor's in Social Work with a minor in sociology) 🎓. On June 1, 2023, I started grad school for my MSW (Master's in Social Work). Wahoo! 🥳 This video is my presentation for the BSS (Bachelor of Social Sciences) Symposium. It represents the culmination of a yearlong effort for my social work honors project: Empowering High Schoolers and Increasing School Connectedness through Peer Mentorship.

Prior to getting back to school, I'd spent most of my adult life as an entrepreneur, learning from life and self-directed education. While many people I know have undergraduate degrees, I didn't think it was something I'd ever accomplish, especially since there wasn't a subject I knew of that I could learn in school. Instead, I cobbled together my own education from books, podcasts, TED talks, various trainings, and more. Partly, this was because it didn't seem like there was much connection between the many things I'd been passionate about throughout my life: veganism (health, ethics, animal rights, environment, racial justice), holistic movement/dance, self-care, intergenerational trauma, and justice.

Several fortuitous conversations with a close friend helped me realize that everything I care about fits under the umbrella of a broader subject. It's called social work. Before I learned differently, I'd thought social workers were just therapists or that they were folx who work in child welfare and separate kids from families. Although that has been true in the past, social work is putting efforts toward healing that harmful legacy. And it's so much more than one-on-one therapy.

In a very brief nutshell, here are two important elements of social work: 

  • Social workers are mandated to follow a code of ethics rooted in social justice that recognizes strengths; affirms the dignity and worth of persons; acknowledges that individuals are not isolated from their environments (using the person-in-environment perspective) and that they are, thus, affected by their environment, circumstances, structures, and systems.
  • Social work has three levels of practice: micro (individuals and families), mezzo (communities and groups), and macro (policy). There is so much to this beautiful field that I could talk (or write) for hours about it. Perhaps I will share more thoughts in the future.

My interests lie in culture change, particularly in building a culture of belonging and a culture of accountability. Individuals have only so much power if they're negatively impacted by a system designed to work for some without admitting that not everyone has the same circumstances or begins from the same place.

For now, enjoy a peek into what I've been doing for the last 2.5 years by watching my video! I'll be curious to know what you think, so feel free to leave a comment!

With love,
💜 Allison (she/her)


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