Integration of Field and Class

The Field Education portion of the MSW program is a major contributor to a student’s general knowledge and experience.  In order to integrate the course work, research, and readings from class, many of our assignments are open for individualization.  This means that when assigned with the task of building a group presentation, the group members can bring in their previous experiences, interests, and Field Education-based knowledge.  Currently, I am in a group tasked with presenting a policy proposal regarding individuals with disabilities.  This collaborative project has been excellent as it has allowed me time to further my understanding of a topic by discussing it with colleagues.  All of us have our different passions and plans, but we also have very different skill sets and ideas.  The information learned from this in-class presentation is helping me explain policy limitations to the professionals at my Field site while feeling secure in my suggested proposals for change.  Likewise, I have been able to discuss the assignment with professionals at Field and elsewhere in putting together a comprehensive, informed presentation for other students.  Without this integrative aspect, I imagine there would be a confusing void between the two major components of the program.


About Chris Nealy

I came to UNC as an undergrad studying pre-law and literature with aspirations of becoming a writer. After taking a job working direct support with teenagers with autism, I fell in love with helping people. I was recommended to study sociology by my advisor and have remained in the field ever since. After graduating and spending a couple of years doing project management for at-risk youth at a residential care facility, I returned to working with teens and young adults with autism. The courses provided through the School of Social Work have proven necessary for me to further develop the skills, knowledge, and professionalism required to effectively help on a higher level. Field education has provided some of the most unique learning experiences imaginable, from assessing preschoolers for a possible autism diagnosis to working with families to find local resources to better aid their children. Volunteering at UNC's Student Health Action Coalition (SHAC), a collaborative student-operated free clinic, has provided me with the opportunity to work with various clients in a clinical setting doing things such as discussing depression, connecting with community financial resources, and guiding women through the process of pregnancy testing and discussing their options. Returning to school last year was extremely challenging, but a move necessary for me to pursue the career I have chosen: working with families affected by autism and other developmental disabilities.
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