With more than 9,000 graduates in social services jobs in Pennsylvania, the State System universities are ready to increase enrollment to help fulfill the commonwealth’s need for more workers.


Success Highlights

Internships help students develop new and strengthen existing skill sets, and apply classroom theory to real-life situations. And in the case of two East Stroudsburg University students, they are a way to positively impact the lives of others. Alice Montes, a senior from Canadensis, Pa., is an intern this spring at Street2Feet, a day shelter for homeless adults in East Stroudsburg; and Samantha Engelhardt, a senior from Bethlehem, Pa., is an intern at the Lehigh Valley Center for Independent Living, an organization that helps disabled consumers achieve or maintain their independence through various services and programs. Together, they obtained a motorized wheelchair for a Street2Feet consumer to give him a huge step towards achieving things independently.
Thomas Oraskovich, a sociology and political science pre-law major from McIntyre, Pa., is making waves at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP). As a Cook Honors College student, he recognizes the value of a degree from Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education and hopes to become a sociology professor in the future.
With job market demands increasing for qualified social work professionals, Kutztown University’s graduate certificate in school social work helps fulfill labor market needs in an accessible, affordable, and high-quality program. The 16-hour curriculum includes both classroom instruction and a field practicum component and covers concepts and competencies based on Pennsylvania's Department of Education Chapter 49 competencies for social work certificate programs. It introduces students to the knowledge, skills, and ethical decision-making capacities used by school social workers.
As a non-traditional student in Commonwealth University-Lock Haven’s social work program at the Clearfield campus, Sarah Casher has lot going on in her life. Casher is a married mother of two with a full-time job who also serves part time in the Pennsylvania National Guard. She was also named the recipient of the William and Twila Sote Memorial Scholarship, the Robert F. Johnson Scholarship, the Paula Bell ROTC Scholarship, and the Donn and Mary Ann Zaffuto Wagner Academic Scholarship for the 2022-23 academic year.
When Dai Davis began her academic journey at Commonwealth University-Mansfield, her goal was to help others by becoming a nurse. But through course work, she soon found that nursing wasn’t the right career path. Instead, a class in social work led her to change her major and chart a new way to help others.
Dr. Jennifer Frank is joining a highly selective group of educators in Pennsylvania. The Millersville University associate professor of social work has been named the PA Social Work Educator of the Year by NAWS-PA. Frank has devoted much of her time as a social worker to helping others and feels it is important to translate her experience and knowledge to the classroom.
A group of PennWest California social work faculty have created the Cultural Humility and Equity Collaborative, a nonprofit that is working to impart the skills of cultural humility to organizations, cities, and schools. CHEC was developed after Dr. Azedeh Block approached fellow PennWest California social work faculty Drs. Sheri Boyle, Marta McClintock-Comeaux, and Janice McCall about using their expertise to foster cultural humility within the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion framework.
When Brittney Samuels was a PennWest Clarion student pursing a bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in social work, she went to class with the mindset that she wanted to help people and to give them a chance. After graduating in 2014, she put her education to work at Buckingham Correctional Center, part of the Virginia Department of Corrections. 
After a 2017 article by 24/7 Wall Street named Erie, Pa., the worst city in the United States for Black Americans, PennWest Edinboro graduates Kyra Taylor ’11, Angel Spraggins ’11, ’15, and Davona Pacley ’12 knew it was time for action. The trio teamed up to establish Erie’s Black Wall Street (EBWS), a nonprofit organization focused on empowering Erie’s African American community through networking opportunities, education and promotion of Black entrepreneurship.
Cristina Ledesma was inspired to become a social work major as she watched the COVID-19 pandemic unfold in her community and around the world. She became much more interested in social justice and felt passionate about making a difference in her community. She’s hard at work preparing for her career with a Shippensburg University’s program that she credits for providing her with the theories and frameworks of social work and plenty of opportunities to implement what she’s learned through real-world experience. And she’s been exposed to social work at all levels of practice.  
Meghan may have been homeless once, but that time in her life doesn't define her. This Slippery Rock University student's full story is much more inspiring. Meghan, an SRU senior social work major from Butler, is a living testimony to the impact of a college education, despite the fact that she was once living in a car while enrolled at another institution.
At a time when self-harm among youth is on the rise, West Chester University is preparing its students for careers in social work. One of those students, Edwena Lanier, a senior social work major at WCU’s Philadelphia campus, is already empowering teen girls.