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School welcomes nearly 140 newly enrolled graduate students

UNC School of Social Work officially welcomed nearly 140 newly enrolled students into its graduate programs this year.

All total, six students are beginning their Ph.D. academic careers and more than 100 are starting their MSW educations this fall. Most of the MSW students are enrolled in the School’s 2-year full time program and 3-year programs in Chapel Hill and Winston-Salem. About 30 new MSW students are enrolled in the 12-month Advanced Standing Program and began classes in May.

Joint in-person orientation sessions were held for MSW students entering the School’s 3-year programs on Friday, Aug. 5, with the Chapel Hill cohort meeting in the Tate-Turner-Kuralt Building on UNC’s campus and the Winston-Salem cohort gathering at the Forsyth County Department of Social Services, which houses the MSW offices and classrooms. Students in the 2-year full time program and Ph.D. programs gathered at TTK for their official orientation sessions on Aug. 12.

Every year, the orientation sessions provide students with a chance to get to know their peers, to learn more about required classes, such as the course “Oppression and Resistance in Social Work Practice,” and to hear from faculty, staff and other students on the skills needed to succeed in their respective programs.

Dean Ramona Denby-Brinson speaks to new students during orientation at the School of Social Work.
Dean Ramona Denby-Brinson

In her welcoming remarks to the School’s full-time cohort, Dean Ramona Denby-Brinson praised the newly enrolled students for their passion for social justice and commitment to vulnerable communities.

“Thank you on behalf of the thousands of children and the thousands of individuals, families, communities and neighborhoods that have been waiting for you,” she said. “Because you have chosen social work, you’re already starting that cycle of change for so many people. So, thank you for the journey that you’re about to embark upon and your choice of the UNC School of Social Work.”

Overall, about 600 candidates submitted applications to the MSW program this year, said Sharon Holmes Thomas, the School’s associate dean for recruitment, admissions and financial aid. Enrolled students are spread throughout the School’s four core programs, including the Advanced Standing Program, which is designed for candidates with an accredited BSW degree and for those eager to continue working while attending school.

Nearly 80% of this year’s incoming MSW students have indicated they intend to pursue direct practice careers, with the remaining seeking employment in community management and policy practice.

The new cohorts also bring a wealth of diverse experiences and backgrounds to the School:

  • 24% are first-generation college students
  • Nearly 60% were born outside of North Carolina, with 10 hailing from outside of the United States, including Australia, Canada, China, Columbia, Israel, Myanmar, Korea, Saint Lucia and Sierra Leonne
  • Nearly a third are multi-lingual, with five speaking three languages and one student speaking four and
  • Many have worked or participated in volunteer experiences in the United Arab Emirates, Amsterdam, Australia, Argentina, Chile, China, France, Hungary, Israel Germany, Myanmar, Netherlands, Cuba, France, Romania, Cambodia, India, Iran, Nepal, Mongolia, Peru, Thailand, and Spain.
Clinical Associate Professor Travis Albritton speaks to new MSW students during orientation.
Clinical Associate Professor Travis Albritton

In addition, the students share a deep desire to solve problems impacting different populations and communities, including issues around adult health and mental health, interpersonal violence, immigrant and migrant populations, LGBTQ youth and families, restorative justice and sex and labor trafficking, Holmes Thomas added.

Entering into one of the nation’s best schools of social work will not be easy, Evelyn “Evi” Taylor, the School’s new associate dean for MSW Education, reminded the students. But the rigorous curriculum is designed to ensure that graduates leave with confidence and a readiness to create change, she said.

“So, there may be times when you’re feeling overwhelmed with all the assignments and the readings, the group projects and the papers, the self-reflections and the self-critiques,” Taylor noted. “But during these times, I want you to remember that you belong here. You deserve to be here and most importantly, you will be prepared.”