What do you do now and how does it relate to your OU degree?
I have two degrees from the University of Oklahoma, a Bachelor’s in Accounting and a Master’s in Social Work. I currently work as a Social Services Specialist at OU Physician’s Wayman Tisdale Specialty Health Clinic. During my Master’s program I completed one of my practicum internships with OU Physicians. I was mainly in Internal Medicine, but I spent some time at Family Medicine, specifically in the free Bedlam Clinic. I enjoyed my internship so much that I decided to apply for a position and started work a few weeks after my graduation in August 2017. I have since become an LMSW and I’m working towards my LCSW!
Share an experience you had at OU-Tulsa that has helped you with your career.
I utilize the bulk of my graduate knowledge in my current practice. One of the great things about the MSW program at OU is how tailored it is to the career field! One of the awesome benefits of our Social Work program is the Simulation Center. Although going through simulations as a student can be a bit anxiety producing and stressful, the hands-on learning you receive by going through an intervention in real-time with real people was invaluable to me.
I had the opportunity to go through several simulations for several of my courses, but the most impactful was a simulation in my DSM Mental Health Assessment class. The actor was phenomenal and, as I’ve now seen by interacting with patients at work, accurately portrayed someone with symptoms of that specific mental health condition.
What were some of your favorite moments as a Tulsa Sooner?
Most of my favorite moments happened with my cohort, a group of students who started the same two year, full-time program with me. I loved that the Social Work program is so established at OU. There are a large number of students from all ages and backgrounds. I will never forget my first week at school, being in these large classes and finding out that there were so many people in the Tulsa area who had similar core values and a love for people! I grew up in Tulsa as a minority in a pretty conservative Christian, White community. Although the community was loving, I often felt misunderstood or “other” due to the lack of diversity or focus on people of color and the specific trials I faced as a Black American.
Starting grad school felt like a breath of fresh air. This program allowed me to collaborate and share experiences with individuals from different walks of life. I was able to interact with people of color and other minorities who experienced similar upbringings, and felt the same discontentment or longing for more than what they’d previously been exposed to. I loved being able to learn side by side with individuals who were committed to change and improvement for our communities. They were not concerned with upholding the status quo, which is oppressive to so many. I made many lifelong friends through this program. My cohort routinely attended happy hours together after class, got together for student sessions, and even went on a retreat after graduation! My cohort and I continue to meet on a semi-monthly basis, almost two years after graduation.
Tell us about some of your favorite classes at OU-Tulsa.
My favorite classes were my DSM Mental Health class and Generalist Practice with Groups, Organizations & Communities. These are two of my favorite classes, because I believe the information learned during those courses is imperative to my job as a Social Worker and I utilize the knowledge learned daily.
As a Mental Health professional, it’s important to have a working knowledge of mental health diagnoses, their signs and symptoms, and common treatments and interventions. I also really enjoyed learning Motivational Interviewing, which is a brief, practical counseling method that assists clients with working through their ambivalence and find the motivation they need to elicit change in their lives.
What are some of the best things about your job?
I feel fortunate to work in a clinic with normal office hours as opposed to being a medical Social Worker at a hospital. I love that my position does not compel me to take my work or any of its attached worries or stressors home at the end of the day. And of course, I love being able to serve, educate, and provide hope to some of the most vulnerable populations in the Tulsa area. I love that my position allows me to be part of the solution to addressing generational trauma and cycles of abuse that plague communities across Oklahoma.
What would you tell someone thinking about going to OU-Tulsa?
I would most likely encourage anyone I met to attend OU-Tulsa whether part of an undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral program. Although I believe the University of Oklahoma as a whole has a lot of work to do in regards to making its campus and clinics more inclusive for minorities and vulnerable populations, I do believe that they are starting to make positive strides towards addressing those concerns.
Tell us about anything else that made your time at OU-Tulsa meaningful.
My time at OU-Tulsa was meaningful in a large part because I felt the coursework and assignments I was completing would legitimately assist me with my Social Work career. I was surrounded by individuals who wanted to learn and make a positive impact in our communities.