The Power of Social Work

Published: Jun 20, 2003

The Power of Social Work

In high school, Tera Foster decided she wanted to be a social worker after participating in a local social activism project dealing with sexual assault awareness. Now Foster is a member of the first class to graduate from the Universities at Shady Grove, where she received hands-on training and participated in community service.

UMBC is one of eight University System of Maryland institutions that offer upper-division courses leading to a bachelor’s degree at the Shady Grove Center in Rockville, Maryland. UMBC offers programs in social work and information systems at Shady Grove.

“Since the program is new, it brings some of the best, most influential professors from UMBC and what you end up with is a great education,” says Foster. “The classes are very hands-on and experimental; you learn a lot through group situations and class projects, which makes learning interesting.”

Classes at Shady Grove are small — usually between 15 and 20 students per class — and there is a close relationship between the teachers and students. “My professors are people who I’ll probably know for the rest of my life,” says Foster.

Last year, Foster was one of only two recipients of the Cliff and Camille Kendall Scholarship at Shady Grove, an award given based on personal need and academic strength, and she was the first student to receive the Shady Grove Student Achievement Award.

In addition to being a member of the Social Work Honor Society, Foster was the founding president of the Shady Grove Social Work Student Association, a 45-member group formed to help further the goals of students interested in social work. “We plan a lot of community service activities,” she says. “In April, we organized a Homeless Bag Lunch where our group made 200 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and distributed bag lunches to several area homeless shelters.”

Currently, Foster teaches two days a week at The Pathways School, a high school for emotional and behaviorally disturbed students. She planned and facilitated group therapy sessions and also worked with students one-on-one. “I’ve learned that even the smallest life event can have a life-altering influence on the students I work with,” she says. “I teach them how to visit a recruiter, how to interview for a job or enter a social situation. These are all small skills, that most of us take for granted, that will help them to be successful once they graduate from high school.”

In the future, Foster plans to continue her education with a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and pursue a position in the social work field.




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