2018 Master of Social Work graduate, Elizabeth Horton, had a very different experience compared to most graduate students. Elizabeth played semi-professional basketball in Germany, while also completing her Master of Social Work degree from her laptop. Thanks to Elizabeth’s ability to complete her degree online, it allowed for her to be immersed into unique practicum experiences—both due to her location, and the period of social unrest in neighboring countries. The Master of Social Work Direct program allowed the flexibility Elizabeth needed to complete assignments even with a 6-hour time difference. Group projects presented some unique challenges, including attending 1 a.m. Zoom meetings, however, the professors and classmates were always understanding—and thankfully, Elizabeth’s basketball schedule was also flexible enough to allow for these late-night homework sessions.
In addition to completing her Master of Social Work degree from Germany, Elizabeth also did her practicum experience in Germany. In the Fall of 2015, Germany welcomed thousands of Syrian refugees in living quarters in surrounding cities to Bad Homburg, where Elizabeth lived, who were fleeing their country due to a civil war. Elizabeth’s basketball coach helped link her with a parent of a young basketball player from the same basketball club who could offer some help in Elizabeth completing her practicum hours. She would give Elizabeth a ride to the English-speaking school where her son attended in a neighboring town. From this school, Elizabeht would then meet with the manager of, what she would best describe as Germany’s version of a Boy’s and Girl’s Club, to then ride to the next neighboring town to this organization where Elizabeth would complete her practicum hours. Elizabeth was able to observe and speak with youth who had to flee their country for safety. Elizabeth also had the pleasure of speaking with a mother and child on the run from their own family who were of high rank in the Syrian army.
Elizabeth says that the most important thing she learned while completing her Master of Social Work degree from the IU School of Social Work is that there is a need for social workers and advocates for social justice all over the world. Further, there are children and families all over the world who struggle in broken systems. Elizabeth also learned that people are the same regardless of the language they speak, cultural traditions they value and customs they practice.
After completing her Master of Social Work degree, Elizabeth was able to become a therapist and obtain her License of Clinical Social Work. Currently, Elizabeth is one of three LCSW’s at the organization she works at, Southwest Indiana Regional Youth Village. Elizabeth’s organization works with at-risk youth who can be tracked either on a substance abuse or residential program. Elizabeth was recently promoted from Residential Therapist to Clinical Director, which allows her to effect change in program design as well as individual treatment. Elizabeth continues to use knowledge and skills gained from the MSW program in her work which now ranges from treating trauma in children and adolescents, diagnosing, treatment planning, group therapy and family therapy to staff/therapist supervision and program development. Elizabeth is further challenged in her new position to utilize skills learned from graduate leadership, macro, and policy courses.