Passionique Presberry, MSW - 2016
When did you decide to pursue a degree in social work?
My original major when I moved to Lansing in 2011 was psychology but ironically I was speaking with a MSU social work alum about my future goals and she directed me to Linda Lawrence who then directed me to Monaca Eaton. Based on my desire to help children and families as a whole, social work seemed to be a better fit. After speaking with Linda and Monaca, I decided to lose a year and complete the social work pre-requirements so that I could apply for the school of social work the following year. Overall, my desire is to help children stay with their primary family, if possible. I would love to help equip the family with resources they need to become the family unit they desire.
Why did you choose social work? MSU?
I have always wanted to come to MSU but do to personal reasons I was not able to fulfill my desire until I married in 2011 and moved to Lansing. I feel that social work picked me. I never really considered social work until I realized that my career goals would best be accomplished by becoming a social worker. I have always felt that children and families who are considered low-income lacked the resources to have a fair shoot at success. I feel that sometimes, depending on your surroundings, life can set you up to fail. My desire is to help those who have experienced these certain setbacks and lack or resources so they could have a fair opportunity at reaching their goals.
What is your dream job upon graduation with a degree in Social Work?
My dream job would be with a company that allows me to provide education, resources and support to parents and children so that their family dynamic is positive and manageable. I have learned that my ideal of family and success might not be my neighbor’s idea, so my overall goal is to help family’s identify and achieve their idea of a successful family unit.
Have you received any awards/scholarships that you’re particularly proud of?
Unfortunately, because I am a non-traditional student I have not been able to take advantage of all that MSU has to offer but I am very proud of the Diversity certificate that I received in my undergraduate degree. I am also very proud of the relationships that I have and continue to build here at MSU.
Do you have any advice for others considering social work?
My advice would be to remember that this is a people profession. Regardless if your social work focus is Micro or Macro you will always have to interact with people. Remember to be kind, open, sensitive, understanding, and empathetic. Realize your biases and misconceptions so that when working with people, you can help them according to their desires and best interest and not yours. In addition, get into social work for the people and not for the money. Enter this field because of the love for people and equality. Realize that you can’t save people but the reward of helping a client reach their goal or learn new skills is invaluable.
Do you have any advice for students currently enrolled in a social work program?
My advice is to get to know your professors, talk to them, ask questions, involve them in your learning process and reveal your challenges. I have learned over the years that my professors can’t read minds and if I want to gain all I can from a class and my professor is not fulfilling that need, it is my responsibility to advocate for it.
Have you had an internship that has had a strong impact on you?
I have only completed one year of internship and I am currently in my second year, but I must say overall the knowledge and experience I have gained so far is irreplaceable. The moments that stand out are the success stories from my clients. I enjoy hearing about victories accomplished and goals achieved.
Have any instructors had a particularly strong impact on you?
All of my instructors have been excellent but my undergraduate advisor was my lifeline. She was a cheerleader, counselor, advisor, instructor, and a calm voice in the midst of a storm. She is one of the main reasons I pursued my master degree in social work. She believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. I have other people in my life who have supported me and cheered me one, but her support and understanding was a blessing sent from above.
Has anyone in Social Work outside of MSU had a particularly strong impact on you?
My faith plays a big part in my dedication to helping. Being able to serve in my church reminds me daily how I can help support the people in my community. At my church, people come in all the time needing resources, support, understanding and direction. I am happy to be in a position where I can use what I am being taught to help others. The skills I have learned during my educational journey such as: active listening, building relationships, and resource gathering has helped me help others. I have also learned how to identify a need in my community, identify support and provide the resource.
What do you believe makes a successful social work program?
Good leadership, professors, and administrators. They should be understanding, resourceful, clear on their role and responsibilities, adaptive, flexible (because every student is difference), evaluative, up-to-date on policies, laws and current events and dedicated to teaching.
What has been the most challenging aspect of your academic career at MSU?
The most challenging aspect of my academic career has been finding a middle ground to my academic responsibilities and my home responsibilities. I am married with two children under six and being a good mother, wife and homemaker is just as important to me as being a student. Learning how to split up my time between the two has been a challenge but I have been lucky to have had so many great instructors and the supportive of my husband. Their support during the difficult times has helped me become successful.
Do you have a favorite quote about social work or something else?
My first year in the social work program, my instructor told us “most social workers come into this profession wanting to fix or save their clients”. This statement was eye opening for me because I felt that way. Through training, I have learned that a social workers responsibility is to support their clients in their individual journey and to help them reach their goals according to their wants and desires.
What has been your favorite class? Why?
I have enjoyed all my classes but the ones that stood out were the clinical application and practice courses. I believe that book definitions and theories are important but if you don’t know how to apply what you learned in a clinical setting, all the book knowledge is wasted. I learned more from those hands on courses and my internship on how to service my clients then I learned in my books. Understand, the books gave me the foundation but the application classes and my internship showed me how to apply what I have learned so I can be a competent social worker.
Has the academic support system at MSU helped you?
Yes very much. I have taken advantage of the writing resource center, advising, the computer labs, the library, office hours and after class discussions. The resources here on campus are amazing. I have been able to use them to my advantage and because of it; I have been able to help others in their journey to success.