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Danielle Ward, iBSW Student, on Interning at University Primary School

Danielle Ward

iBSW Intern, University Primary School

Danielle Ward headshot

Danielle Ward, one of the first iBSW Program students, reflects on her experience in the program and internship at University Primary School

Danielle Ward, a student in the inaugural iBSW cohort, is making significant progress during her internship at University Primary School. Engaging in hands-on classroom experience as part of her internship, Danielle reflects on her journey in the iBSW program and field placement as she moves towards graduation and her aspirations in child welfare or school social work.

The iBSW program is a CSWE-accredited program allowing community college graduates and transfer students with junior standing to earn a Bachelor of Social Work degree. This program is held 100% online and combines online courses and in-person field placements to allow students to receive the knowledge and experience they need to confidently step into the field of social work.

“One of the most memorable experiences from the iBSW program has been the group sessions we have every week and our every other week class,” Danielle says. “Most of our time is spent discussing our internships, brainstorming as a unit on any problems we may have, and developing solutions together! Our professors also bring in past students from the social work program and other speakers to talk about their own experiences being in the field. This has been incredibly helpful in my own decisions on what I’d like to do when I graduate in May!”

As an online program, iBSW encourages collaborating and making connections with others studying alongside you. “Collaborating with my peers has absolutely been the best thing about the program. I assumed I would be more alone during my time interning, but I have so many support systems due to the way our program was designed.”

When asked about her internship at University Primary School, Danielle speaks excitedly about the opportunities to witness theory being put to practice first-hand and how the experience has influenced her own perspectives. “My internship at University Primary School has so profoundly influenced my perspective on social work and community engagement,” she says. “Witnessing firsthand the impact of Reggio Emilia-inspired education and the support the staff gives to the children and their well-being has reinforced my belief in the importance of accessible and inclusive education as well as social services. Engaging with families and teachers, and our own wonderful grad co-teachers has also highlighted the interconnectedness of community support systems in promoting resilience and empowerment!”

Being in the classroom does not come without its own unique challenges. “A few challenges during my internship were navigating diverse family dynamics while providing support,” Danielle admits. “This experience has emphasized the importance of cultural competence and sensitivity in social work practice, always continuing to educate yourself, and that it’s okay to not know things, but make sure you take time to learn. Also, managing my time and resources effectively with varying caseloads, projects, and even my own personal life taught me valuable organizational and prioritization skills essential for professional growth in the field.”

One of the projects Danielle held in her classroom is a pet food/supply drive, followed by organizing a field trip to the Humane Society for the children to deliver the goods. “Coordinating the pet food drive posed some challenges, including figuring out how to gather families’ participation and organizing the field trip to the Humane Society,” she says. “The Preschool teachers and co-teachers were so wonderful in helping me, they took over planning a date and time to go over to the shelter, and that was incredibly helpful for me. In the end, it was more than worth it. Seeing how this project and the teachers promoted empathy and awareness about animal welfare among students made this an enriching experience.

In the weeks leading up to the field trip the teachers and co-teachers made a dedicated animal shelter play place in one of the classroom corners for the children, where I could put the donations I gathered and they could teach them what exactly an animal shelter is and why these donations were so important. This project promoted active involvement in community advocacy and empowered students even at such a young age to initiate positive change.

Hands-on projects like the pet food drive offer invaluable opportunities for applying theoretical knowledge in real-world situations,” Danielle says, reflecting on the experience. “Engaging in practical initiatives fosters critical thinking, empathy, and collaboration skills which are essential for effective social work practice.”

With her upcoming graduation in May, Danielle has many plans for her future, including taking off a year or two to work in the field and gather more hands-on experience. “Ultimately, my goal is to pursue a career in child welfare or school social work. I am passionate about advocating for vulnerable populations and fostering resilience in children and families facing adversity. Additionally, I aim to continue my professional development through ongoing education and involvement in community initiatives.”

As part of the inaugural iBSW Program, Danielle was able to experience a new approach to a comprehensive educational experience in the field of social work. “Overall,” she concludes, “My journey in the iBSW program and internship experiences have been incredibly rewarding and transformative. I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to positive change and am committed to promoting social justice and equity in my future endeavors as a social worker!”

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