University of Southern Illinois at Carbondale (SIU-C) celebrated on 50th her birthday School of Social Work with a workshop and guest speakers on October 15.
The event began with a two-hour seminar of Sharon Dornberg-Lee, a clinical social worker from Chicago with 25 years of experience. The seminar was entitled “The pandemic in a pandemic: post-Covid social isolation-19. “
Dornberg-Lee ‘The presentation detailed the negative effects of social isolation on the health of people 65 and older and how to empathize with those who suffer from it. The presentation included resources for workers who interact with socially isolated populations.
She said social isolation is an objective lack of social connection with almost everyone else.
“About a quarter of seniors are socially isolated,” Dornberg-Lee said. “Social isolation increases the risk of premature death from all causes, such as smoking, obesity and physical inactivity.”
After the seminar, a pre-recorded welcome message from the governor JB Pritzker congratulating the school on its longevity. This was followed by welcome messages from members of the school administration, including Marshal Meera Komarraju, Professor Hussein Soliman, Director Juliane Wallace, and Dean Robert Morgan.
Morgan, former professor of forensic sciences at Texas University of Technology, was appointed first dean of the College of Health and Social Services, launched in July as part of the reorganization of UIS-C who started in 2019.
“Social work is above all a business focused on human service”, Morgan noted. “The mission and purpose of social work is to serve, to help those in need and to improve their lives. “
Morgan started his job at Texas Tech in 2000 and, during his tenure, he held the positions of Associate Department Director and Director of the Institute of Forensic Sciences. He received the John G. Skeleton Regents school endowment Department of Psychological Sciences in 2011, a position created with the aim of bridging the gap between academia and real-world application, according to the school website.
“Our goal is to produce graduates who will come out, help people and have an impact” Morgan noted. “They do it because of the services they provide. They learn by connecting with community partners to provide services and learn from experience.
After the welcoming statements, the alumni of the school had the opportunity to talk about their experiences with the school and their work after their time at UIS-C.
Travis Nottmeier is a former student of the School of Social Work, having obtained his baccalaureate and master’s degree from the school. Since graduation he has been employed by Chester Mental Health Center.
“I was brought up with similar values” Nottmeier noted. “Although I didn’t know I was going to be a social worker when I was young, the values and ethics of education that I have been given are very much in sync with social work. “
Chester Mental Health Center is a medium / maximum security mental health facility that accommodates patients from law enforcement or correctional facilities that require a higher level of structure or security than other facilities in the state.
Nottmeier said his facility employs a large number of social workers to work with inmates. He said the facility is working to restore the mental health of forensic patients to enable them to move through the justice system and hopefully become productive citizens.
“It gave me a very good base”, Nottmeier noted. “I obtained my clinical license and worked as a social worker for the Illinois State, and now I am an administrator in a mental health facility. It’s not just a job, it’s a lifelong commitment to people.
Nottmeier said underserved communities like the ones it serves are particularly affected by the lack of staff equipped to deal with the various mental issues that can arise during care. He said this is compounded by the general lack of concern for the issues affecting these populations.
“We need to understand that everyone’s background is very different from ours in many cases,” Nottmeier noted. “It’s about understanding, and once a customer feels that empathy from you, it really helps the relationship. “
Following the statements of the former students, there was a break where those present were able to taste the restoration of 17th street barbecue. Students were able to mingle with alumni and professors while a DJ played hits from the past 50 years.
Anna Hugues, the program coordinator for the Carbondale Women’s Center, was one of the master’s students in attendance.
“Learning from all different perspectives, learning the importance of diversity and cultural competence, and how it all applies to all people from all walks of life really marked me”, Hugues noted.
Hugues said empathy is at the root of our society and serves as a foundation to use in any social arena. She said that social work in particular can use it to have a positive impact on the communities in which we live.
“I think the education I will receive through this program will be a tremendous asset”, Hugues noted. “I would like to continue to become a licensed clinical social worker so that I can better supervise the staff of the Women’s Center and ultimately better services for survivors in our region.
Dean Morgan encouraged people to join the School of Social Work to help alleviate the issues that arose during COVID-19 pandemic.
“People suffer from mental and physical health problems and they need help”, Morgan noted. “This is the dynamic of the social work field. They can step in and provide services at a myriad of intersections with mental and behavioral health.
Morgan said with social workers in high demand and with an aging population, the field is expected to grow.
“People are living longer, resulting in later problems that require social workers,” Morgan noted. “There is a market for social workers and it is a career area that is ripe for opportunities. “
Journalist William Box can be contacted at [email protected] or on Twitter at @ William17455137. To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Egyptian Daily on Facebook and Twitter.