A career in social work can be both a demanding and heart wrenching profession, but for the social work majors at Auburn University, giving others a voice fulfills a passion for helping those who cannot always help themselves.
Elizabeth Hoyt is a senior majoring in social work at Auburn. She remembers first wanting to be a social worker when she was in high school.
“I felt all along I was going to be a teacher,” said Hoyt. “Then one day in my childcare class I was introduced to a little 4-year-old girl who was in foster care. I realized that you can do so much more than just educate a child, you can help them.”
Since then, Hoyt has shifted her focus from wanting to work with children to helping educate inmates. Last semester students helped with the Alabama Prison Arts and Education Project in which they organized a book drive for inmates at The Women’s Center in Montgomery. Textbooks were donated to serve as educational materials for the women; resources that are often hard to come by.
“We were able to talk with the women and find out what they really needed,” said Hoyt. “It was a lot different than working with juveniles at the Justice Center in Opelika during my small practicum.”
The social work curriculum at Auburn includes three methods classes that each break down the different levels of social work based on group size. The micro class focuses on working with individuals, the mezzo teaches students to work with small groups, such as a support group, and the macro class centers around working in the community and with large groups.
“The program at Auburn is great because we get the chance to do two internships,” said Hoyt. “The small practicum helps us figure out what we really want to do so that we can choose something that we’ll really enjoy for our final internship.”
The mission of the program is to educate students who will make a positive impact on the diverse population of Alabama and advocate especially for children and families at risk. Graduates of the program can enter a wide range of fields including healthcare, child welfare, criminal justice, gerontology, community development and the federal government.
“It’s a very challenging career, but it’s also very rewarding,” said Hoyt.