Emily Young
Emily Young, MSW - 2019

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou

When did you decide to pursue a degree in social work? Why did you choose social work? MSU?
A large part of what drives me is my experience as a young person in long-term recovery from addiction. When I entered recovery at 21-years-old, completing my undergraduate degree was a priority; at that time, however, campus did not feel like a safe or supportive place to try to maintain abstinence.

During my senior year, I approached Student Health Services about my experience. In fulfilment of the internship requirement of my Family Community Services degree, I was able to work with the Health Promotion Department to establish MSU’s Collegiate Recovery Community (CRC), a peer support program for students in or seeking recovery from addiction.

My internship supervisor was an MSW who had received her degree from Michigan State. She encouraged me to look into the program, and after reading up on the profession, I was sold. I knew that social work was a good fit because its mission, philosophies, and values are a direct reflection of my personal and professional goals. I also liked the flexibility of the degree, and felt that becoming a social worker would offer me the opportunity to pursue many different career paths. MSU’s part-time program has allowed me to complete my degree requirements while working full time to grow the CRC.

Have any instructors had a particularly strong impact on you?
I entered my first semester of the program with a concentration in clinical social work. However, after taking Dr. Klein’s Social Welfare Policy course, I knew I had to consider a different path. The class opened my eyes to the injustice inherent in so much of our country’s policy and inspired me to get involved and make a difference.

I had pursued a degree in social work because I wanted to improve the lives of those affected by mental health and substance use disorders, and legislative advocacy provided me with a whole new means by which to do so. By the end of the semester, I had made the decision to channel my passion for helping others into affecting systems-level change, and I switched my concentration to Organization and Community Leadership.

Emily Young

Dr. Klein also encouraged me to apply for the Advocacy Scholars Program, a scholarship program that provides training and mentorship for students interested in careers in professional advocacy. I am honored to be a part of the 2017-2018 Advocacy Scholars cohort and excited to learn from the passionate and distinguished faculty behind the program.

What has been your favorite class? Why?
After discovering my interest in policy advocacy, I decided to utilize some of my elective credits to participate in the School of Social Work’s Inside/Out Prison Exchange course. The 400-level class takes place in the Cooper Street Correctional Facility and brings together MSU social work students and incarcerated students for a semester-long course on criminal justice policy.

Together, “inside” and “outside” students study the intersection of mental health, substance abuse, immigration, and the criminal justice system, and come up with policy solutions to difficult social problems. I have never felt so connected to my peers as I did in Inside/Out. The class built in me a deep empathy for incarcerated individuals and reaffirmed my career goals of improving mental health and substance abuse programs and policies.

Do you have any advice for others considering social work?
If you are considering social work, I would encourage you to go for it! The decision to further my education has opened so many doors for me personally and professionally, and I have felt so consistently supported and empowered by the School of Social Work faculty and staff. If you have questions or concerns about the program, reach out to someone and ask!

Everyone I have encountered has been so willing to help guide me in the direction of my academic and career goals.