Even if you’re familiar with the social work major at Taylor, you may have no idea what social workers actually do. And that’s OK, because senior social work major Maiya Szotkowski didn’t either.
“Many social work majors have a similar story of not really knowing what social work was when they chose (their majors),” Szotkowski said. “I was the same way.”
Social workers can do a wide variety of things, but they all center around helping others. Though social work may seem like an abstract concept, it meets very real and physical needs.
These needs are being met by Taylor’s senior social work majors across the globe as they complete their degrees with required semester-long internships.
“I’m able to be in the office five days a week, all day, with minimal school work,” Szotkowski said. “I think it’s really wise that our program offers this full-time placement in the last semester.”
Szotkowski is currently in Indianapolis, interning with Catholic Charities’ immigration and refugee program. She spends her days doing paperwork, providing transportation for clients, watching music and art therapy sessions and sitting in on immigration attorney meetings.
Szotkowski is going to pursue law school after she graduates from Taylor. Though she doesn’t plan on becoming a career lawyer, she hopes to use the knowledge to help her future clients as a full-time case manager.
“I’m super interested in refugee resettlement and the immigration process,” Szotkowski said. “The more that each of us learns more about our passions within the field of social work, I think we’ve found more purpose and more excitement.”
Fellow senior Lexi Clay has also discovered her specific passion: working with children and families.
Interning at Allen Elementary School in Marion has solidified that concept.
“The school social worker kind of just mediates a lot of issues in the school and advocates for students, families (and) parents,” Clay said. “We meet one-on-one with kids a lot of the time.”
Clay may end up as a school social worker, but she could also see herself working at a homeless shelter, community center, foster agency or adoption agency.
Through her internship, she is gaining experience on how to best communicate with and love people — skills that can be applied to whatever career path she ends up choosing.
“My favorite part about social work is the way that it highlights the inherent dignity and worth of every individual,” Clay said. “Social workers are people that love well. And I’m thankful to be a part of that.”
Senior Meredith Polizzi is loving people outside of Indiana through an organization called Shower the People based in Nashville, Tennessee.
Shower the People’s main service comes in the form of a white school bus with two showers inside. The bus is also equipped with a plug-in generator to make the water warm, and tanks to hold both clean and dirty water. In addition to showers, the organization supplies hot meals, clothing and toiletries to the homeless population.
“I go out with the shower bus three times a week,” Polizzi said. “The rest of the time, I’m either in the office or working from home, and I’m doing some research for the organization about the need for affordable housing in Nashville.”
Nashville is growing rapidly, but as it develops, the city is becoming gentrified, and affordable housing is being bought by big corporations. Many people who once made enough money to afford a house can no longer afford to live in Nashville.
One of the most rewarding experiences, however, is when the people who regularly utilize the shower services stop showing up, as this means that they have finally succeeded in finding a place to stay.
“The end goal is to, like, work ourselves out of a job,” Szotkowski said. “To be able to equip people well enough that they just don’t need us anymore.”
Throughout their four years of education, Taylor has equipped these women to become competent Social Workers. And now, in turn, they are finding joy in equipping others by showing Christ’s love to them.