Eric Powell, Mental Health Concentration, Class of 2015

“As a part-time MSW student who was working full-time, I knew that I would face a number of unique challenges and obstacles. I was worried that I may not receive the same attention or care because I was not as visible or present as the full-time students. However, my fears quickly subsided as I began to experience firsthand just how much the faculty and staff cares for their students. I never felt forgotten or left behind, as the staff made me feel not only comfortable but also at home. I am currently halfway through my MSW internship, and the education I received has been invaluable, using that knowledge each and every day. To all those within the School of Social Work who have helped and supported me along the way, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

Brianna Malin, Class of 2016

“I had always wanted to be a teacher when I grew up because I wanted to make an impact in others’ lives. When I started college, I soon realized that my life dream to help young people would take on new directions. As I began to take classes at University of Illinois, a new path — social work — could give me opportunities to help students and young adults grow as individuals, even beyond a classroom setting. I decided to apply to the School of Social Work, which opened up a new world to me.

With the smaller staff to student ratio, I have felt more valued in the classroom, and the more intimate setting of my classes has also made our sometimes intimidating campus size feel very small. The School of Social Work has also opened my eyes to a newfound interest of mine — social entrepreneurship.

The team in the Social Work department has given me the guidance I need to start my own Registered Student Organization on campus. They have pushed me to my highest college potential in a comfortable, family-like atmosphere, one in which I have taken great strides in my academic career.

As I look back over the past two and a half years, I am nothing less than completely excited to begin my senior year. I cannot wait to complete my coursework, get my masters degree, and embark on a rewarding career that not only embraces my childhood dream of helping others, but encompasses all I have learned and all the ways I’ve grown by being part of this amazing school at University of Illinois.”

Jason Davis, Mental Health Concentration, Class of 2017

“The reason I chose the MSW program is because I was looking for an experience that would give me valuable skills that I could implement to make a difference within our youth by catering to their mental health and behavioral needs. If you are looking for a master’s program that teaches you advance techniques and gives flexibility, than the MSW program is for you. The program gives you ample amount of time to finish your degree. As a part-time student, I am able to take classes at a pace where I can successfully focus on my classes, work as a full-time preschool teacher and remain on my course to complete my degree in two years. The school of social work provides an environment that is truly one-of-a-kind. I’ve never encountered a setting where there was so much faculty/student interaction inside and outside the classroom. There are informative discussions, community service opportunities, and tons of food that are available on a very consistent basis throughout the year. I will always be thankful I had the opportunity be a part of my new family, the MSW program.”

Eric Ray, Class of 2017

“I chose The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for a couple of reasons. One, Illinois is the premier university that not only employers see as an major asset in employees, but also has the absolute best professors that care about their students’ successes.

The staff at the School of Social Work from advising to internship scheduling has taken a personal interest in my success as well.

I plan to work specifically in a diverse environment. The courses at the School of Social Work help me to prepare for an internship where I can use my newfound diversity knowledge to help others. Without an education that is centered on diversity and inclusion, I don’t believe I could excel in the field of Social Work, and the University of Illinois provides that.”

Brynn Howard, Health Care Concentration, Class of 2011

“I decided to attend the School of Social Work at the University of Illinois because of the amazing reputation that the program has- I knew there was no other school I wanted to attend. I chose the Health Care concentration because I had a strong interest in geriatric services, specifically Hospice Care. In the Health Care concentration, my interest grew into a passion as I learned- both in the classroom and hands on during my MSW internship at Carle Hospital.

Shortly after my graduation in 2011, I was hired at my internship placement, Carle Hospital, where I worked as the NICU social worker. While this was not a population I thought I would work in, I absolutely loved the families and children that I worked with. Even though I truly enjoyed working with that population, I still felt a strong urge to return to the geriatric population. I received an amazing opportunity to transfer to Carle Hospice in 2014, and I jumped at the chance to return to my passion. Working for Carle Hospice is a job that I love and truly feel that I have found my fit. Being able to be a small part in someone’s final days is a true gift.”

Chinonyerem Kamalu, Health Care Concentration, Class of 2015

“My experience in my MSW program cannot be described with mere words but I will use 3 words to describe it: great, awesome and fun filled. I did not only receive education towards my graduate degree, but I also developed my leadership skills. As an Executive Board Member of the GSWA and Student Co-Leader of the Diversity Committee I participated in organizing events for the graduate students and facilitated Diversity Committee brown bag discussions on difficult discussions which prepared me to take up tasks with confidence. I also became more vocal and ready to discuss with co-workers and healthcare team on some difficult discussions that people are very sensitive to discuss. My classes in addition to my participation in some committees prepared me with what to expect in the outside world and how to apply critical thinking in solving issues that can be sensitive.

I am completing my 3-months field placement at University of Illinois at Chicago Specialized care for Children which is a Title V program under the management of UIC which provide services for children and youth 0-21 years with special health care needs. I am in the Champaign Regional Office at 510 Devonshire Dr. Suite A, Champaign and the first MSW intern at the Champaign office. My duties include but not limited to the following:  registering of diagnosis, determination of medical eligible conditions, assessment of needs/concerns, complete care coordination plan, communicate with physicians and specialists, request for reports and communicate recommendation to client families, attend multidisciplinary team meetings, attend medical appointments with clients and families if needed, communicate and refer families to community resources/providers, and prepare teens/youths 14-21 about transition to adulthood especially with providers.

My goal is to work in the pediatrics with special interest in children with developmental disability. I plan to obtain my LCSW and in few years continue my education to obtain my Doctorate in Social Work.”

Morgan Tarter, Health Care Concentration, Class of 2015

“My choice to attend University of Illinois School of Social Work was one of the best decisions I could have made. This decision, not only provided a dense academic foundation, but it also provided many opportunities to work outside the classroom prior to field placement.

The Community Learning Lab (CLL) provided a way to begin working in the field, using the skills taught in the classroom, while also being able to start networking professionally.  In addition to working with the CLL my Graduate Assistantship provided another way to activate my “social work toolbox” and get accustomed with the field of social work. Ultimately my field placement allowed me to continue to develop and put into action all the social worker skills learned in the classroom. My field placement, in addition to academics, has given me the confidence to feel prepared and ready for my future as a Social Worker.”

Lenore Matthew, Class of 2017

“I entered the field of social work after working for several years as a practitioner and researcher in international development. I knew I wanted to pursue a doctoral program that focused on applied research, and that enabled my continued work abroad.  Since day one in the social work program, I have felt completely supported by my advisors and professors.  Our faculty are deeply invested in the professional development of their students.  Because of this, I have been able to gain hands-on practice and research experience that have been enriching in their own right, as well as platforms on which I have launched my own independent projects.  With my faculty advisors, I have had the opportunity to collaborate with the departments of Food Science and Civil Engineering, conduct field research in Guatemala, and co-author a study for the United Nations Volunteer Program.  These projects have helped shape my own research, which I am conducting in Brazil.  With the support of my faculty advisors and the flexibility of the program, I was also able to accept a six-month research position with the International Labor Organization, a branch of the United Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland.  Overall, the social work doctoral program has provided ample hands-on opportunities that have shaped my career path in unique and meaningful ways.”


Tina Turner, School Social Work Concentration, Class of 2017

“Truthfully, as a veteran and resident of Illinois, I was confined to Illinois for graduate school since I have a veteran’s grant from the state that pays my tuition. U of I was my first choice, not only because of its prestigious history and well recognized reputation, but I got such a good “vibe” from the social work department. More than any other university, I enjoyed the layout of the degree and coursework and felt like I would get the most of my time in graduate school.

So far, I could not be happier with my choice to attend U of I. I like how we actually put into practice the social work methods that we are learning, so that we can gain experience not only learning, but also using, techniques and tactics that we will use in the real world. I also enjoy that the classes are not just a professor lecturing for a few hours, but that there is a lot of discussion where we are encouraged to ask questions, share personal experiences, and learn from our classmates as well as our professors. (And though I don’t have any previous social work experience, I have been pleasantly surprised with how much I have been able to bring to the table-that was something I was really worried about coming into the program)

I really like how accommodating, approachable, and encouraging the faculty and staff of the department have been. I feel like I can walk into the department office at any time and someone will always be there to answer a question or help in any way possible. AND! I love how Dean Korr is at every event and is always mingling and socializing with the students, it really makes us feel like she is interested in each of our stories and values our presence in her program.”

Donzell Lampkins, MSW Student, Health Care Concentration, Class of 2016

“When I decided to pursue a Master of Social Work, I knew there was only one choice: The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign! Throughout the application process, I had so many questions and concerns, yet Illinois never grew frustrated. I felt genuinely cared for by the faculty and staff who proved themselves to be very resourceful. From participating in stimulating classroom discussions to exploring my academic curiosity through research with my mentor to attending numerous informational presentations, the School of Social Work demonstrates why it is one of the top MSW programs in the nation! Being at Illinois, the opportunities are endless, however these opportunities would not had been afforded to me had I not received a graduate assistantship from the School of Social Work. Not only am I able to focus on my studies and be fully active in the program, I am able to share my experience with prospective students, assist faculty, staff and current students, and grow as a professional.

As a healthcare concentration, my hope upon graduation is to become a Medical Oncology Social Worker at a hospital/cancer center to help patients and their family with cancer navigate through the healthcare system, connect them to resources, aid them in solving their problems and provide psychosocial counseling in times of need. I would highly recommend anyone who is interested in pursuing a MSW to apply here because Illinois truly is the best! We have an inclusive environment and we are not afraid to make change not only on campus but in the community! The Master of Social Work program is committed to mentorship, student-teacher interaction and helping students reach their full potential! This program has strong relationships/partnerships with many organizations in the community and beyond. Simply put, I have found that dreams do come true at Illinois.”