Social Work in action: MSU MSW alum Q & A

January 18, 2023 - Brandon Drain

Brian PhilsonBrian Philson is an MSW alumnus who is now the president-elect of 2023 Board of Directors of the Association of Social Work Boards and is the president and CEO of Highfields, an $8.5 million human services nonprofit serving 11 counties in Michigan.


Q. How was your time at MSU and how did your experience here translate to your career currently?


A. My experience at Michigan State University was a transformational time in my life, as a student, clinician and future leader.  The education was excellent, but perhaps the best aspect of my time at MSU was the opportunity to grow as a leader.  My time there laid the foundation for who I am today as a social worker, and my professional career and the leadership roles I have had the opportunity to serve in.


Q. In what ways would you say the MSW program prepares a social worker for the field?


A. The MSW program provides an excellent foundation that can then be applied to real field work, with coaching and supervision, allowing the student to grow and flourish as a professional social worker.  MSU’s MSW program was a great fit for me as I was also working full-time, and my wife and I were beginning to have children of our own.


Q. What are your thoughts moving forward considering your recent achievement?


A. The future of social work is bright, and perhaps more needed now than ever before.   The need to raise up a competent and resilient workforce is now more important than ever before, and I am excited to be a small part of that.