The professionalism of SUNY Plattsburgh’s social work program has been backed by Council on Social Work Education accreditation since 1994, and is now re-accredited for another eight years.
The program allows students to not only earn their Bachelor of Social Work degree, but also enables students to obtain their Master of Social Work in just one additional year. While COVID-19 has increased financial stress for nearly every institution, the program is still projected to continue growing in upcoming years.
Kim McCoy Coleman, BSW program director and assistant professor, began working with the program five years ago. She describes the work as, “one of the most exciting, diverse and efficient career paths for those who know in their heart of hearts that they are natural-born helpers.”
As the lead on the CSWE re-accreditation process, Coleman divulges that, “having to work on the reaffirmation of accreditation during the pandemic was horribly stressful.”
With that being said, she continued to acknowledge that due to the circumstances, she believes the CSWE was “a bit more understanding” allowing an extension for the self-study document submission and a virtual site visit experience via Zoom.
The re-accreditation itself does not change much. She notes that the re-accreditation assures students that the Plattsburgh BSW program offers strong training for aspiring social workers.
“[It] doesn’t change anything, except for our confidence level,” Coleman said. “It’s like a test where you provide the grade you think you deserve, the data and a very long narrative about to back that up.”
Coming up with ideas and changes that result in earning a better grade the next time, is an essential part of the process as well.
Students in the program demonstrate an immense amount of respect and passion for social work and the department. Junior Dominique Threatt transferred into the social work program this year.
“The program has given me the opportunity, tools, and guidance to succeed…to use these [tools] to progress forward as an individual and as a professional in the field,” Threatt said.
Sophomore Justin Mayo, the Social Work Student Association Vice President, agrees with Threatt.
“This program has the benefit of close-knit social work classes and one-to-one contact with their exceptional faculty,” Mayo said.
The Social Work Student Association provides additional opportunity for students to collaborate with the community.
“We usually host food drives and collaborate with other clubs to raise money for disaster relief,” said Mayo. The club is open to all SUNY Plattsburgh students, and meets every other Wednesday.
Even with COVID-19 making social distancing a common practice, the program has still enabled students to engage in activities related to the program.
“Even if they are on zoom, there is still a way to be a part of the community,” Threatt said.
In the coming years, Coleman hopes to see the program expand. Primarily, she would like to see the program go on to provide a fully online accessible option for BWS students, to reach non-traditional students, career changers and students from around the globe. Additionally, she aims to initiate an arrangement with other SUNYs that would allow the top 25 Plattsburgh BSW graduates guaranteed acceptance into their MSW programs.
With Plattsburgh’s social work program as a stepping stone, students are eager to begin their careers and follow their passions.
“I would like to start a non-profit organization that helps young adults get into college by giving scholarships,” Threatt said. “The dilemma usually is that financial aid may not cover everything, each school is different, so if this organization can be a stepping stone to eliminate stress/struggle from an individual, this is where I want to show my way of change to the world.”