When asked why they got into social work to begin with, UTC’s most recent social work seniors will tell you they wanted to make a difference. They point to moments in their life, or the life of someone who is close to them, that opened their eyes to how they could spur change. Even before graduating, these students were already making waves of change in the Chattanooga community as they partnered with local nonprofits to conduct much needed research in the community.
“I’m actually a hair dresser right now and I talk to a lot of people and they tend to spill all of their problems to you. So, I think that I had one particular person who I was told later that I helped a lot and I realized that I want to do more than just hair,” explained Jodi Barriga.
This semester, Barriga worked with a group of students who studied satisfaction of foster parents. They compared demographics with foster parent surveys to find correlations between what might influence higher satisfaction among foster parents or those who may consider volunteering through foster care in the future.
Another group teamed up with Partnership to see if there were any patterns/indicators with the individuals they had to turn away when their programs were at capacity. The data from the research those students conducted is now being used by Partnership as they apply for more grant funding, to better serve the community and grow their programs.
Andre Hitchcock’s own childhood experiences with a helpful social worker influenced his career choice.
“I wanted to be that voice for someone else,” he said.
Hitchcock, who will be enrolling in the University of Memphis’s graduate program in the fall, joined a team measuring the impact of after-school programs on students’ academic performance and TCAP scores.
For more information about how our social work students are working with the community, check out Social Work Seniors help out local nonprofit agencies.