By Dean Danielle Wozniak
As a child, when I misbehaved, my father would quietly say, “Remember who you are.” With this simple sentence he asked me to remember who I was: as his daughter, as a member of my immediate and extended family, as a resident of my town, as a citizen of my country. With one sentence I bore the weight and the pride of representing kin who had come before me and those who would be connected to me in the future. His words emphasized that my choices mattered beyond the moment I occupied.
I brought the knowledge, that my choices mattered, into my career and chose social work, a profession dedicated to alleviating human suffering on the individual, group, and institutional level. What social workers do, matters. It matters to those in crisis, to those who are grieving a loss, to those who struggle in school, to those whose marriages are failing, to those whose families feel fractured and disjointed, to those who struggle with addictions or mental illness, to those who want to make a change but aren’t sure how. Every single day of my career what I have done matters, not just to me, but to the critical repair of our social fabric.
Wurzweiler School of Social Work attracts a diverse body of students but they all come with one thing in common: the desire to make a difference and the knowledge that through social work, what they do matters. Unlike other graduate programs, social work is not just a subject you study, it is a craft that must be carefully learned and nurtured through intense teaching/learning relationships. At Wurzweiler we provide the opportunity to learn this craft through small classes, one-to-one faculty advising, field placements in social service agencies and opportunities to specialize in important practice areas.
We know that the world needs social workers so we make getting a degree as flexible as we can. Our summer program allows students to take classes for 7 weeks in Manhattan and then complete a clinical field placement in their home community during the academic year. We also have a program for working professionals that allows students to take classes on Sundays and weekday evenings as well as a full time or part time programs starting in the fall. We offer inexpensive summer housing for those who need it and scholarships for those who apply.
This is my first year as Dean of the Wurzweiler School of Social Work. When I participate in my first graduation ceremony this spring, and usher another generation of highly skilled practitioners into the world to do the critical work of repair, I will simply say to them, “Remember who you are.”