It is cliche, but to say time has flown by is an understatement.  Arriving to the school in August 2009, I felt like I was facing a huge uphill battle riddled with any number of obstacles to face.  While the obstacles definitely presented themselves, the dedication and professionalism of the faculty and other students to the SSW and the field of social work provided a much-needed (much-appreciated) resource for succeeding.  While it hasn’t been easy, the goal of obtaining the MSW has more than exceeded my expectations of personal and professional growth.  In 4-weeks, we will have the 3 letters closely following our printed names that we’ve sought for 21 months.  But more so, and I feel this is true for many of us, we will have completed a major step in better understanding ourselves, our peers, our communities, and the conflicts within them all.  Most importantly, we will be confident in not only finding solutions for those conflicts, but creating them when none are available.

This is a message of resilience for those interested in joining the field of social work, and a message of congratulations to those prepared to embark on the next step.


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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