Name: Gemma Johnson
Major: MSW/ JD Direct Practice
Student Organization Affiliation: Black Social Work Student Caucus
Graduation Year: 2018
What made you decide to enroll in the social work department here at SDSU?
I originally moved out to San Diego from Australia in 2011 to study History and represent SDSU on the swim team. I really loved it here and wanted to stay so applying to do my Masters at SDSU was the natural choice. I did my first two years of undergraduate study as a Psychology major. Toward the end of my degree I took a Child and Family Development class as a GE which touched on some of the aspects I had learned in psychology and I realized a part of me was still interested in psychology, particularly in regards to the social psychology side. Looking into the MSW degree I realized, I could still have a career that satisfied this interest. At the beginning of my first semester I decided to switch from the 2 year to the MSW/JD program to expand my career options.
Describe your most memorable experience in the Department.
My most memorable experience was attending the Martin Luther King Day Parade as part of the Black Social Work Student Caucus. It was great to be part of an event to honor someone who represented values that we as a field share – equality, non-violence, leadership and selflessness – values particularly important to reflect on and consider better ways to implement in the current social climate.
What are your plans after graduation?
I haven’t decided exactly what career path I wish to take. Having come from a history major background, the Social Work field is very new to me but I am enjoying it so far. The MSW/JD program provides me with a broad range of options and the internships are giving me a chance to try things out and see where my interests lie. I do want to stay in the US at the end of my degree, which means before 2018 it is important in my case in particular to have a clear plan.
What are some of your favorite aspects of the program?
I have met some really cool people. I intern with Jennie Buss-Gregory and she is a great support to me both in the internship and through the stress of being a grad student. I like how all my classes encourage me to think about people, society and the world in new ways, challenging me to look beyond views I may have developed in my own socialization. I really enjoy the Human Behavior class with Professor Marucheau and the different frameworks it provides me for understanding person’s behaviors. I’m also enjoying Dr. Zuniga’s ‘U.S-Mexico Border-Health With an Emphasis on Substance Use’ class, which is giving me my first taste of the issues particular to the border region, knowledge which is important for persons hoping to work in the social work field in San Diego.
Describe why you would recommend SDSU to potential Students.
Faculty in the SDSU Social Work program are really supportive. The program is rigorous and challenging but will provide students with knowledge in a broad range of areas applicable to the social work field no matter which focus they choose to take in the long run. The professors, come from a wide range of specialties, whether with an administrative or direct practice emphasis, including Dr. Ko with direct practice, Professor Carrilio on policy, or Professor Barker in Human Service Organization management. They do not only have teaching experience but experience out in the field, which really enhances the learning process and provides an additional level of understanding from the examples they are able to provide.
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