Advocating for the advocates

Students celebrated National Social Work Month at advocacy day at the State House.

By Alicyn McClish

There are more than 700,000 social workers in the United States and the field is growing according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some of those future social workers are training at the University of Findlay.

“The first thing that I think of when I think of social work is advocacy,” said Cameron Green, junior in the Social Work program at the University of Findlay.

March is National Social Work Month when social workers are celebrated for their focus on the wellbeing of others and celebrate the month by advocating for others.

Green says he likes that social work is a broad field where you can help people in a variety of ways.

Green started his career at Findlay in the biology program but realized that he wanted to work with and help people.

“I switched over and it’s honestly the best thing that’s ever happened to me at UF,” said Green. “It’s a wonderful program.”

According to Hope Roth, a junior in the Social Work program at the University of Findlay, students in the Social Work program take typical courses such sociology, psychology, and biology, but they also take field work, interview, and human behavior classes to help prepare them for the work force.

“Our program at UF is outstanding,” said Roth. “UF offers field experience, great preparation for the licensure exam, opportunities like Advocacy Day, and much more.”

Green and Roth were just a couple of the students that traveled to the Ohio State House for Advocacy Day on March 8, 2022.

“We talk to representatives about bills they are currently getting ready to pass,” said Green. “We give them a take on what social work is and how those bills will affect people.”

“Usually there is a gala in Columbus in March, as well, to celebrate Social Work Month,” said Dr. Megan Gonyer, Assistant Professor of Social Work and Field Education Coordinator for social work at The University of Findlay.

According to Gonyer the gala was pushed back to summer this year due to COVID concerns.

“This past fall I won social worker of the year for our region,” said Gonyer. “So typically, that is celebrated at the gala, too.”

Gonyer also follows the NASW, National Association of Social Workers, on social media to keep up with activities throughout the month.

“I often use this phrase: it’s an honor to be the person that someone might talk to,” said Gonyer.

Other than educating future social workers, Gonyer has a practice where she talks to 10 clients on a weekly basis about mental health.

“When I go in with that kind of attitude it helps me to not get so burnout overwhelmed, frustrated by the system,” said Gonyer. “I truly do see it as honor that I get to be the person that listens to what people are experiencing.”

According to the NASW, the theme for social work month this year is “The Time is Right for Social Work.”

“National Social Work Month brings awareness to the profession and the populations that it helps,” said Roth. “I think social work is a profession that not a lot of people are aware exists, and so Social Work Month celebrates social workers everywhere while educating people on what exactly it is.”

Social Work Month is a time to learn about contributions of the profession, according to the NASW.

“The goal is always how do we help create a life for someone who is living fully, wholly and in full wellness in their life,” said Gonyer. “What does that look like for them in terms of work, in terms of personal life, their mental health, emotional physical health all of that just creating this well-being and functioning for each individual.”

This is also done on a societal level to help create functioning as a society, according to Gonyer.

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