Social work

Helping communities thrive through social work

Abby Chapman is pictured above on the far left. Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb is on the far right.

Students who specialize in Social Sciences At Taylor, learn to analyze information, think abstractly, write and present information well, work with clients and ask tough questions. They are equipped to promote redemption and change in our increasingly complex world. The social sciences stress the importance of embracing and learning from history, appreciating human diversity and recognizing the interdependence of social life.

For former Abby (Crump) Chapman ’19, student Social work Prepared her to become the Indiana Main Street Outreach and Organizer for the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA). In this role, Chapman was able to live out his passion: to be a useful resource for the individuals and communities around him.

A heart to help

Chapman was committed to serving others from a young age. She grew up in a people-centered family with her mother, a nurse who did hospital case management; her sister, a social worker; her brother, a mental health therapist, and her father, a pastor. Chapman knew that she also wanted to create positive change in her community.

When Chapman considered coming to Taylor, she was torn between two career paths that could achieve this goal: Psychology and Social work. She thought she might end up becoming a therapist like her brother, but was drawn to social work because of the many possibilities in the field.

“When I came for an overnight visit to Taylor, I sat down with Cathy Harner, who was previously head of the social work department before retiring,” Chapman said. “The way she spoke about the social work program and the coming together of the realities of the profession and our faith really took my decision to the extreme. ”

When Chapman arrived in first grade, she was thrilled with her choice to declare social work as her specialty. She described the degree as “holistic” and was still able to take psychology classes, Business courses, and others that she found interesting. She liked being able to try different things, taste other areas of study while continuing her social work.

This diverse experience would give him a solid foundation for his eventual position in the state government as the head of outreach and organization of Main Street in Indiana.

“On the education side, I don’t think there is anything more valuable than having a well-rounded education,” Chapman said. “Obviously, going to a liberal arts school is something that we just do – we take history and music lessons and all those different areas. “

Chapman did two internships to earn his social science degree. A J-Term, she worked in Washington, DC as an intern at Girls Inc., an organization that inspires girls facing poverty and prejudice to be strong, smart and daring. She also did an internship with Affordable Housing in Marion, where she discovered her new interest in community development.

When Chapman first came to Taylor, she thought she wanted to do social work at a micro level, helping people one on one. Now she is passionate about social work at a macro level, helping individuals by helping larger groups and communities. These experiences, in addition to his Taylor training, helped shape his career trajectory.

“In the social work department, I like how convenient everything is – we weren’t just sitting in a classroom talking about it, but we often had to go out and do projects in the communities and work with it. people we do actual interviews with, ”Chapman said. “Nothing is better than going out there and trying to do what you learn, and I loved how much at Taylor they care about having those experiences in the real world. “

Serving rural communities

When Chapman graduated and began her job search, she found the Governor’s Scholarship, a one-year program for graduate students to see what state government work looks like. Graduates get three-month rotations to see different agencies, gain extensive experience and network.

Chapman was accepted into this program, and when asked where she wanted her first internship to be, she said she wanted to work in the Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA). She became very connected with this agency and asked if she could stay another three months. She ended up staying at OCRA because of how much she loved it.

After his term as Governor’s Fellowship ended, a new position was created within the agency to work with the Main Street organization in Indiana. Main Street is a local and national nonprofit movement dedicated to the revitalization and preservation of historic downtown areas across the country, and in Indiana, this primarily involves rural communities.

Chapman applied and was hired in January 2020, months before Covid-19 rocked the world.

Before Covid, Chapman traveled 2-3 days a week to one of the 128 Main Street communities his agency serves. There, her day might include meeting with a community director, who could show her around downtown and ask her questions. They could go there to do an assessment of their accreditation status, or go and celebrate a grant they had received for a new streetscape, water infrastructure, or perhaps a historic renovation. Each day brought something new and different, something that she loved.

Now Chapman does most of those Zoom meetings, a transition that’s not unique to his situation. On her phone calls and digital meetings, she talks to directors having issues in their communities so they can share, process, and think about next steps. Chapman oversees much of the project management, like scoring and reviewing grants and advocating for communities to be accredited by Main Street.

“My social work classes have given me a foundation and so much knowledge to be able to undertake this work with confidence,” Chapman said. “But I also think back to those other things that had nothing to do with my social work degree that still really help me today.”

Faith and friendships

Chapman’s advice for students considering social work is to be prepared to hear a variety of perspectives, even those about which they may have strong opinions.

“One of the most important things I would like to stress for someone entering the program is to be prepared to listen and learn from each other – your peers, your teachers, other people, even only those on your floor in Taylor, ”Chapman said. “I think this is one of the best things I learned from the social work program: how to listen to other people’s experiences that were not like mine, which then allowed me to overcome any problem. which of my own prejudices. Be prepared to learn, and don’t be afraid to enter into conversations that might seem a little uncomfortable to you.

Beyond her social work training, Chapman said she spiritual development To Taylor was enriched by working as a DA (Discipleship Training Assistant) his second year and PA (personal assistant, similar to an RA) his first year.

She said these roles teach people to sit in conflict and work with all types of people with different ways of approaching things. Create a feeling of community even in the midst of the tense moments, she prepared her in a way she never expected.

“Pre-college, I was a very conflict averse person – I didn’t like conflict, I didn’t want to be a part of it and that scared me,” Chapman said. “But now I can be much bolder and I can talk about it and process it well, so these experiences at Taylor have made me a better follower of Christ. Having a solid foundation of faith and what I believed in when I first stepped into the real world has really been my foundation. I couldn’t do anything I do without the Lord, so having my faith build up in Taylor was just great.

She said living alongside others at Taylor had introduced her to dedicated friends, people she considers her support system to this day. Whether it’s meeting people in your major, university residency or both Spring break trips in Russia, she expressed her gratitude to those who brought Taylor through her four-year transformation.

“There really isn’t any community like the one Taylor has to offer,” Chapman said. “One of the most interesting things about the Taylor community is that you have the opportunity to meet so many different people and live with people in a tight-knit community – which can be difficult and stimulating and a lot. other things, but can also be really, really rewarding and give you some of your lifelong best friends. “

Interested in studying social work at Taylor? Learn more about the major here!