Students and staff of the UNBC Social Work program recently celebrated their profession with an on-campus lunch.
The Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program is designed to prepare students for beginning level, generalist social work practice with individuals, families, groups and communities.
Currently students can complete their bachelor’s program entirely at the Quesnel campus and if they chose, complete their masters of social work through distance education with attendance in-person at the Prince George campus for at least
two, possibly more, courses.
Heather Peters is an associate professor with UNBC School of Social work in Quesnel since 2001.
She completed her BSW in 1993 then went on to run the youth centre in Williams Lake.
“I’ve always worked with youth and children,” she said.
She finished her MSW in 1999 and her PhD in 2012.
Her transition from in the field to in the classroom was something she pondered for a long time.
“I like the idea of having influence on the next generation of social workers,” Peters said.
“I want them to think outside the box and look at ways of doing things differently.”
Her area of expertise begins with teaching students structural social work – looking at the client in a wholistic way and in the context of society.
She also sees social policy as an important element to the students’ learning.
“To change for the better how social work is practice and applied,” she added.
“Understanding the circumstance of the client and appreciating the societal structures that impact those clients is critical as well.”
Kerry Thaler is a third year BSW student and Susan Peck has just completed her BSW, however she also sits on the provincial board of B.C. Association of Social Workers.
As an adoptive mother, Peck has lots of ministry experience, but her decision to become a social worker came after a long and thoughtful process.
“I recognize the inequalities in the world and wanted to do my part to address them,” she said.
Once in the UNBC bachelor of social work program, Peck was most surprised to learn the role of government in the field, both in terms of policies and ideology.
“I understand that aspect of government much better now.”
Thaler said, “as social advocates we see B.C. as needing a lot of work to decrease the inequality between the haves and the have nots.”
“We are seeing the shift from a welfare state to corporate thinking and as social workers we work for a better balance,” Thaler went on to say.
Again Thaler was surprised to learn a small percentage of government and society make decisions for the majority, often without the necessary understanding of that majority.
With one year to go, Thaler is looking at either practicing social work in the mental health field, one of the most marginalized segments of the population.
“I’m seeing the difference we can make on the front line and that keeps me positive,” she said.
“It’s amazing to see the generosity of people who have nothing. I’m in awe of homeless people who have the strength to get through each day.”
Thaler was also surprised by the number of services provided by non-profit organizations in Quesnel – by volunteers and a few paid staff.
Both agreed one of the most important roles of social workers is to advocate to maintain the social safety net and
strive for a basic standard of living for every Canadian.