Master of Social Work 2020 graduate, Amy Kirby, had a unique graduate school experience completing her degree over 6,000 miles away on a military base in Japan. Amy’s spouse serves in the US Marine Corps, causing Kirby to relocate to Japan and complete her degree from her laptop.
Amy’s experience completing her Master of Social Work degree online in Japan was not different for her, other than she was pushed to go out and socialize with new people. Upon arriving to the island Amy lives on in Japan, everything was so new to her. However, having to interact with individuals for assignments given by Amy’s instructors challenged her to get out and learn more about not just what Japan had to offer, but also the military as Amy lives on a military base.
In addition to completing her degree in Japan, Amy also completed her practicum experience there as well. Amy was given the opportunity to work with numerous staff and volunteers who were committed to serving the American Red Cross mission in Okinawa, Japan. Developing into a social worker and interacting with individuals on all levels in a professional manner is crucial to Amy, which the Red Cross gave her the opportunity to do through conducting casework, face-to-face interactions, and email and telephone interactions. This allowed Amy to expand her client interactions through different communication platforms. Amy also completed some leadership roles as well as trained new volunteers who were joining the Red Cross team.
Regarding her experience as an MSW student at the IU School of Social Work, Amy says that she was provided numerous classes that allowed her to obtain a strong skill set that will allow her to pursue a career as a therapist someday. Amy enjoyed the fact that the program was very hands-on and allowed her to dive-in and understand not only what her strengths and weakness are, but what social work truly is on all different levels. Amy says that the most important thing she learned while completing her MSW is that social work is needed everywhere you go. Also, the importance of advocacy for those who are vulnerable in the world and communities is crucial and as social workers, we provide that support and voice.
Right now, Amy is staying at home with her 5-month-old son due to the pandemic. However, prior to coming to Japan, Amy worked at a practice called Integrative Wellness in Lebanon, Indiana. This practice has allowed Amy to stay apart of the team by helping with administrative tasks virtually. Also, Amy is a volunteer in Okinawa at the Red Cross as the Casework Lead.