End of year thoughts

Today is my final day of classes. While I won’t have any classes again until Fall, I am starting my second year internship in the middle of June (35 hours a week), so I won’t really have too much of a break. However, by beginning my field placement early, I can delve much deeper into the placement, much earlier, than I would if I began in Sept. Further, a new geripsych program is being initiated at the hospital I will be interning at (St. Joseph’s), this summer, and by being able to  devote a larger  chunk of hours to the internship, I will have more time to dedicate to developing interesting clinical projects, while being unencumbered by classes/papers/studying.

I think one of the strengths of the social work program at DU is the flexibility to mold your experience based upon your needs. Just today I spoke with a prospective student who was surprised to hear at DU the student can interview with  multiple field placements as a means of sizing up “goodness of fit” between you and the placement/supervisor. A number of social work programs don’t allow students to interview at potential agencies. Further, I really appreciate having the option to begin the internship during summer. As a non-traditional student (husband/parent), this flexibility is much welcomed.


Like any other big city, Denver has a really strong music business with small bands playing everywhere and great radio stations.  One of my personal favorites, 92.5 The Wolf country music, puts on concerts every year including a huge 4-day country smash this summer with greats like Alan Jackson and Clint Black!  They make it affordable too, right now they have a deal on their websites for a full 4-day pass at half price (get on it quick if you’re interested!!!).

They also have great concerts, like their amazing “iPad a Day Give-Away in May”, which yours truly….WON ON WEDNESDAY!  I also won tickets to the local amusement park, Elitch Gardens, and I can’t wait to use both!  Living in Denver has great benefits, awesome concerts AND awesome contests!!!

Half Way There!

I’m officially one half of an MSW!  As finals week come to a close and summer arrives, I have began to reflect on my GSSW experience so far.  Although I have learned a lot of facts and details about social work history, theories, policies, and research, this hasn’t been the most important part of my education.  I learned the most about myself and about “real” social work through my experiences at my internship.  I could probably go on for pages and pages discussing all of the valuable skills that I have developed, but I will stick to the most important…

  • I learned the importance of balancing my life and making sure there was enough “me” time in there.  I am the kind of person who enjoys having a lot on my plate–when I have any kind of down time, I get bored.  However, I learned how important self-care is and that I need to make time to just relax so I don’t get burnt out too quickly.
  • The concept of “person-in-environment” was re-enforced daily at my internship.  Basically, it is important to understand everything that is going on in your client’s life in order to treat his or her behaviors accordingly.  Often times, a behavior has nothing to do with the specific situation, but may have everything to do with an issue the client deals with at home or in school.
  • I have also learned how to process my feelings better–at my internship I learned a lot about examining why certain children’s behaviors triggered me in certain ways.  This has been an area of personal growth that will make me a better social worker.

Overall, I realize that my thought process has changed over the course of this year–I feel like I am truly starting to “think like a social worker.”  Although I have learned a lot, I know I will learn even more during my second year.  I am looking forward to next year’s classes as they are much more focused on a subject matter that I am passionate about (high-risk youth) and I can’t wait to start my new internship in the fall!

I wish you all the best of luck and hope you have a fabulous summer!!

Until next year,


Summer Plans

I’m preparing to take my last final in just a few hours and could not be more excited!  I will be heading out afterwards to celebrate with friends and enjoy the first day of summer vacation.

The summer will prove not to be much of a vacation after all.  I’ll be nannying full-time for 3 kids, 10 and twin 6-year-olds.   In addition, I’ll be working 12 hours as a part-time staff member for my internship host from this year.  They have a had an increase in work and needed some additional hours and since I’m already trained, I’m a cheap new employee.  It is really nice to be asked to take the position and shows that my work during the year for them was worth it. 

Luckily, I’ll have a few weeks off throughout the summer to enjoy the Colorado sunshine and mountains.  I am excited to spend my summer away from school and have already created a summer leisure reading list!

Its……baseball time!

One of my favorite things to do in the summer is going to baseball games and living in Denver is a perfect setting!  There is a gorgeous view of the mountains and Denver skyline from Coors Field and tickets are incredibly inexpensive!  I went to a game yesterday, sat only 20 rows up from the field, and almost caught a foul ball…all for only $30!  Since my family is all from Chicago I grew up listening and watching Cubs games with my dad, and to this day I’m a die-hard fan.  Living in Denver now though means that I can’t visit Wrigley Field, but luckily the Cubbies still come out for a series verses the Rockies!

A few weeks ago the Cubs came out and I went to the 11th Annual “Cubpalooza”, a Chicagoan now living in Denver organizes the event so that Cubs fans (which almost outnumber Rockies fans here) can all get together.  For only $25 I got a t-shirt, free admission to several local bars to listen to live music before and after the game, and good seats with a whole block of other Cubs fans!  The Cubs also won, which made for a great day!  Denver’s a great city for baseball fans!

Second Year Internship

After several interviews with various agencies, I accepted an offer at St. Joseph Hospital in Behavioral Health. I actually will start the internship in June and continue throughout the academic year. This “summer block” option will allow me to balance my academic year and family life and other obligations a bit more. Further, I will have a unique opportunity to explore a geri-psych program that’s beginning at St. Joe’s in August. I think one of the great things about the DU GSSW program is that the is flexibility to mold your schedule and create an experience that is suited to support each student.

I actually had two interviews with St. Joe’s and really connected with the person who will be my supervisor and the two other people I would be working most directly with.  That is a critical piece of the internship for me. Feeling both supported, yet challenged, and being able to communicate clearly with your supervisor is really makes for the optimal field experience.

An outdoor movie theater?

Yes, GSA, the Graduate Student Association at GSSW, recently bought an outdoor projection screen for community nights! Our new on-site (portable) movie theater had its first use this past Friday with a screening of The Princess Bride. GSA sponsored a happy hour for students, faculty, and staff, providing food and space for some much needed R & R. After some tasty burritos and quesadillas from a nearby restaurant, people made their way over to the GSSW patio for freshly made popcorn and a classic film! It was a great opportunity to decompress under the stars, enjoy some fresh air, and laugh uncontrollably at silly antics. I’m looking forward to more cult classics and the opportunity to spend some time at the theaters (without spending $10 a ticket, of course) with friends and colleagues. Keep your eyes peeled for film screenings in the upcoming fall quarter.

Outdoorsy Self Care

One of the important things that they drill into us at GSSW is SELF CARE!  I’m sure you’ve read other blog posts where people mention some of the things they do to balance out their lives and take care of themselves.  Now that the weather is getting nice here in Denver, there are some really awesome ways to get some of that self care…

  • Some friends and I have formed a volleyball team and we play four games a week at Wash Park.  We entered a league through Sports Monster which is a great adult recreation league that offers sports such as basketball, broomball, dodgeball, kickball, ultimate frisbee, soccer, and many others throughout the year.
  • I recently entered in a 5K race benefiting a non-profit organization called Girls on the Run of the Rockies.  It’s an awesome agency that encourages healthy lifestyles for girls.  Denver and surrounding cities offer regular opportunities to participate in similar races (you can find a list of them at Running Guru).
  • Going to a Rockies game on the weekend is a great way to get outside and enjoy Denver’s spring time.  You can either sit in the Rock Pile for only $4 or you can go on StubHub to get some great deals.
  • Although I haven’t been there yet, I hear that Red Rocks Amphitheater is an amazing entertainment venue.  This summer they have some great bands coming to play including O.A.R., Dispatch, Earth, Wind, and Fire, Ray LaMontagne, Bassnectar, and many more.
  • BBQ-ing with friends is also a big hit when the weather gets nice and it is a great way to relax (self care!) on a graduate student budget.
These are definitely just a few of the outdoorsy self care options to partake in here in Denver–make sure to check them out when you get here!

Let’s Kick it for Kenya!

GSSW is helping to sponsor the Kick It For Kenya 5K Run/Walk on June 26, 2011, at Denver’s Cheesman Park. Two GSSW students, Julia Jones (jones.julias@gmail.com) and Chelsea Geraghty (chelseam29@gmail.com), are hard at work on this charity event, to benefit The Kibera Girls Soccer Academy, located in East Africa’s largest slum. There’s more info at www.kickitforkenya.com.

The Search is Over

As you may have read in previous posts from myself or others, many of the first year students have begun, and hopefully finished, their search for Concentration Year internships.  Right after Field Fair emails began flying through cyber space, phone calls were made and interviews were scheduled.  A few students I know were even contacted the very night of Field Fair and had interviews before the end of that week.

The stress level at GSSW rose considerably during the weeks following Field Fair.  Students were not only working their internships but searching for and interviewing for next year’s placement while managing their course workload, and for some,even a job.  Students were often visibly irritated when they had yet to find a placement and another student announced that they had accepted a placement.  Competition for certain placements was steep; for example, seven students interviewed for 2 coveted positions at Children’s Hospital in the Inpatient Eating Disorder Unit or a multitude of students for a stipend program at the VA Hospital.

The search for next year’s placement really begins with a decision.  Students must decide which track of study they will pursue and find an internship that fits those needs as well as their own personal interests.  We must also consider what Certificates we intend to earn as our host site must be able to accommodate that training.  For many students who aren’t sure what they want to do or what career path they’ll take after graduation, this can be a very stressful time.

I’ve finally accepted a placement and will be working in the Heart and Lung Transplant Unit at the University of Colorado Hospital.  Although it wasn’t my top choice, it allows me the Medical Social Work experience that I desire and is with a large, well-respected institution that may have opportunities for me as a professional after graduation.