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High school students learn about social work careers at UNC event

By Ashley McMillan, Assistant Director of Recruitment, Admissions & Financial Aid

The School of Social Work had the pleasure of opening its doors to 19 rising high school seniors from across North Carolina for the 2nd annual Social Work Introduction for the Next Generation (SWING) program. This year’s SWING program was extended from its original two day format to three days and was held from June 11-13, 2015.

SWING is a unique program in North Carolina that introduces students to the field of social work through engaging hands-on activities and gives them an opportunity for an on-campus visit. The program was co-sponsored by the UNC School of Social Work and the Health Affairs Pipeline Partnership Initiative (HAPPI), a UNC collaboration aimed at increasing the recruitment and retention of underrepresented minority students in health careers. Representatives from the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, Carolina Leadership Development, Carolina Covenant program, Princeton Review, College Foundation of North Carolina, and The Healing Place of Wake County helped make this year’s SWING program a success.

This year’s program focused on substance abuse and recovery, which led the students to tour and engage with residents at The Healing Place of Wake County, a recovery and rehabilitation facility for homeless people with alcohol and drug dependency. Students were able to discuss the social stigma surrounding recovery as two staff members from the Healing Place shared their personal journeys of recovery, emotional stories filled with despair and triumph. The group also learned how to discuss addiction and recovery with friends and family through Recovery Community Messaging Training, provided by current MSW student, Donald McDonald. These experiences proved to be enlightening and humbling for the participants. Students were also immersed into a host of other activities throughout the program, such as:

  • Panel of professional social workers working with individuals in recovery
  • Strengths Quest Personality Assessment
  • College 101 Presentation
  • Screening and discussion of “Intervention”
  • SAT strategy session
  • Campus tour

SWING participants were able to leave with a better understanding of social work, exposure to the UNC student experience, and new friends. One participant shared that “the panel of social workers and UNC staff were very enjoyable, as they provided insight on a variety of social work professions, and allowed us to better understand the college admission process. The knowledge attained from that will help us during applications this year, and increase our understanding of the significance of social workers within the community.”

The School of Social work extends their best wishes to these bright and promising students as they continue into their senior year.