By Cailin McKenna
Fordham Rose Hill social work majors received exciting news a few weeks ago when the Fordham College Rose Hill Council, a council of associate professors, approved a proposal to create a stand-alone major. The stand-alone social work major has been in place at Fordham College Lincoln Center and the School of Professional and Continuing Studies for several years. However, Rose Hill students will now be able to concentrate on their social work major without having to fulfill the requirement of a second major.
The Bachelors of Arts in Social Work program is accredited by the Council of Social Work Education and ranked as the fourth leading social work undergraduate program in the nation. Fordham’s program is a five-year accelerated Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Arts program in which students receive both a BASW degree and a MSW degree. Many social work majors at the university opt to take a fifth year of classes in order to earn a masters degree in social work. “In line with Fordham’s strong commitment to social justice, the BASW program provides a major that educates students to work on behalf of vulnerable individuals, families, groups and communities,” said David Koch, Ph.D., Licensed Clinical Social Worker and director of the BASW program.
Students complete their course work at either the Lincoln Center or Westchester campuses. BASW students participate in Fordham’s Graduate School of Social Service and take classes with MSW candidates. BASW students have access to the graduate school’s resources, lectures and social work student groups. “Fordham University has a vital BASW program and with the change for Rose Hill students, all students at Fordham can choose Social Work as a major,” he said.
While the program and curriculum will largely remain the same, Rose Hill students will be able to concentrate more on their social work major and will not be required to add a second major. Beginning in Jan. 2016, all students will be able to matriculate into the stand alone major.
Candidates for the major must complete 33 credits as well as 600 hours in a yearlong field placement and integrative seminar. Student placements for field work are determined.
The placements range from working in a hospital delivery room and maternity department to a senior center for LGBTQ adults to a domestic violence hotline. Rachelle Kammer, PhD and Licensed Clinical Social Worker, coordinates the field work and teaches the integrative seminar.
Despite their wide range of field work assignments, students come together in the seminar to engage in discussion of social work and how their actions can help others. “Students get to share their experiences with one another and thus learn a great deal about the vast range of settings in which social workers work and the many different types of interventions social workers use to help individuals, families and communities,” said Kammer.
The new stand alone major has attracted the attention of many Rose Hill students. “I think the new major is a great thing because it was really very stressful for me to balance two majors,” said Lauren Kawulicz, FCRH ’16, a social work major. “It was difficult to feel motivated to do well in my non-social work classes because I would not have kept the other major if I did not have to. Going forward students will have the freedom to just focus on their social work major.”
Kawulicz was involved with the proposal to make social work a stand-alone major. She worked with Eve Keller, PhD and director of the Rose Hill Honors Program, who presented Kawulicz’s argument at the council meeting and voted in favor of the stand alone major.
She is currently doing her field work at the Nuevos Horizontes site of the larger Edwin Gould Services for Children and Families. Nuevo Horizontes is the organization’s first Bronx-based preventive program, which operates in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the South Bronx. “It has been great to have the opportunity to feel like I am actually able to make a positive impact,” she said. “Throughout college, I have learned that I have trouble with just doing academics for their own sake, so the applicability of social work has been a really good fit for me.”
In addition to the BASW’s strong relationship to the Graduate School of Social Service, the program has also forged an alliance with China Youth University’s social work program allowing students, like Kawulicz, to study in Beijing. Students from China Youth University are also coming to New York to obtain a dual degree in social work from their host university and Fordham. “I have really enjoyed the opportunity to get to see social work in other countries and more generally to just learn about another culture and meet new people,” Kawulicz said.