My name is Amanda Ziehnert and I want to tell you about my Concordia Experience as a Social Work student.
I transferred to Concordia my Junior Year, when I first met my advisor, Joan Adams, who, with Jennifer Pinto, the Program Chair, helped me to explore the field of Social Work. My entire learning experience soon became a partnership.
As a commuter, I wanted to be engaged with the school and campus community. I joined the Social Work Club (Co-President my senior year), did some church work, and volunteered one Saturday a month. I served on the Orientation Committee prior to my senior year, was a first-year mentor, worked several open houses, and worked with the Dean for Students on the judiciary board. You can't help but get sucked in here and love every part of it. It's just infectious. If you love building relationships, Concordia just fosters that. There are so many ways to get involved.
Landing an internship my senior year at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital is something I'll never forget. My heart was set on hospital related work. My father was diagnosed with acute leukemia and passed away before I started college. I knew early on that I wanted to dedicate my career to fighting cancer in any capacity possible. Most hospitals are unwilling to train bachelor-level students. To have this type of work experience without a Master’s degree was ambitious. Joan and Jennifer cautioned me about zeroing in on a particular area, but I always felt they trusted and supported my vision. I am still in touch with my supervisor from Burke to this day.
So much of social work is being self-aware and connected to the environment and people around you. It is easy, at college age, to become discouraged when you're working with real people and dealing with real issues. At times you may have doubts about your future as a social worker. The faculty allowed us to explore those doubts and reassured us that we were going to be exceptional. They take risks, but that sort of honesty is necessary in our line of work.
When studying for my master's degree, I felt prepared and comfortable with the content. The Program’s advanced standing allows for a master’s degree in just one year. It puts you on a fast track and is definitely a money-saver. Having already interned at a hospital, I was placed at the Stamford Hospital Bennett Cancer Center. Hospital and oncology social work are difficult fields to break into. Although this was my passion, it was challenging to find work. In the meantime, I secured my licensure as an LMSW, another very important and marketable title, and pursued other areas of social work.
I was hired at Stamford Hospital working in the psychiatric unit, building on the fundamental skills needed as a social worker. I gained an appreciation for the wider scope of issues affecting our world today, including mental health and addiction. Then I signed on to become a social worker at a non-profit called The Bone Marrow Foundation where I provide counseling over the phone, work with a patient's transplant team, and monitor our service programs (financial assistance, peer-to-peer support, question-answer consultation service). I’m initiating an online support group for transplant survivors that will be launching in the coming months. I didn't think I would be so successful so early on in my career, but I love being a part of patients’ lives and assisting them through tough times.
Choosing Concordia helped to shape my life and career in unimaginable ways. The faculty, students, and staff are supportive and knowledgeable. It’s been a transformational experience and I am forever grateful for my time here.