Alumni Spotlight: LaToya Bryant, MSW

Picture of LaToya Bryant, MSW and UNE Online alumnaLaToya Bryant is an alumna of the MSW program here at UNE Online. Here, she talks about her social work career, why she feels that having her MSW makes her more marketable, and how her education prepared her for clinical work.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and what encouraged you to pursue your Master of Social Work?

I’m a recent MSW graduate and UNE Online Student Ambassador. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, traveling, helping others, and serving my community. I’m very passionate about mental health and ensuring that individuals have the resources and support that they need.

With my seven years of experience in the field of social work, I decided to pursue my MSW primarily to advance my career. I feel that having an MSW makes me more competitive, marketable, and also prepares me for clinical work.

How did you feel about the flexibility of the program?

One of the major advantages and reasons for choosing UNE was the flexibility of the program. I was able to continue caring for my loved ones and working full time while pursuing my master’s. Although there were due dates for assignments, I was still able to review the course material during my own time and arrange my schedule to complete assignments accordingly.

What type of work do you do?

Currently, I’m a case manager for a CAP/DA program. That stands for Community Alternative Program for Disabled Adults. Primarily, I perform core case management activities, which include assessing the client, developing their care plan, monitoring their services, linking and referring the clients to available resources, and following up with the client, their family, and service providers.

The primary goal of the program is to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of clients while assisting them to remain in their homes within the community – to avoid institutionalization.

How did you feel about your work-life balance as you went through the program?

At first, it was challenging, but I feel that time management is essential. Setting a weekly schedule, practicing self-care, reaching out to your support system when you need it, and rewarding yourself is important.

Once I started utilizing these techniques, my work-life balance became more manageable and more of a routine for me.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your work?

I’ve continued to work in person during the pandemic, but I have noticed an increase in flexibility among the staff that I work with. We have all kind of taken on additional tasks and roles and helped out in other departments when needed. Employee safety and well-being seem to be a top priority as we’ve implemented sanitation protocols, temperature checks, screenings, and social distancing measures.

What are you planning to do with your degree now that you have it?

My ultimate goal is to become a licensed clinical social worker. Once I complete my required number of hours for licensure, my plan is to then take the exam.

Did you feel supported by your instructors and your student support specialist?

Yes, I did. My instructors and student support specialist were very supportive. If I had a question, they were usually quick to respond back with an answer. My instructors offered me guidance and a professional learning experience while also providing effective feedback on my assignments.

The instructors also fostered collaboration and empowered us to develop critical thinking skills through our discussion board posts.

Did you feel like the program curriculum was rigorous?

I do, but it was necessary. Because of the program curriculum, I was able to utilize the skills learned in the class and apply them to practice.

Did you feel that you had a sense of community while you were going through the program?

Yes, I did. I feel like the faculty and staff at UNE did an excellent job fostering an inclusive learning environment for us. The instructors showed interest in the students and created a supportive and caring environment. The staff at UNE did an excellent job communicating changes, any updates, and anything that happened on campus.

Overall, there was mutual respect shown among the instructors, staff, and classmates. Even as an online student, I felt up to date on different events that occurred on campus.

If you could give a future MSW student a piece of advice, what would that be?

These are some of the things that past students have told me and also what I’ve learned on my own. Number one – organize and prioritize your schedule to accommodate the demands of attending class, completing your assignments, field placement, working, taking care of your family, and other responsibilities.

Number two – be proactive about orienting your classes and field placement to your career interests.

Number three – don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Number four – and maybe the most important one – take care of yourself. My instructor, Deb Koestner, emphasized the need for self-care in our field seminar class. Through assignments, I became more conscious and self-aware of the need for self-care. Prioritizing self-care early in your career will make it easier for you to balance both your career and personal life.

Learn more about UNE’s online Master of Social Work

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