"I received my degree as an extended program student, which allowed me to make up a personalized schedule for taking classes. It took me about three and a half years to finish my studies. The extended option is a perfect choice for those who can't afford to completely quit working or who just want to take their time. It was ideal for me, because I hadn't been in school for a while. So I took a few courses and found that I loved it. The School prepared me for a whole new career."
Jill Chiara is a clinician at the Fifth Avenue Center for Counseling and Psychotherapy in New York City and is in postgraduate training at the National Institute for the Psychotherapies.
"In my opinion, social work is about expressing a real interest, a sincere curiosity, about other people. I feel honored when I listen to people's stories. For me, it's like drama without the trappings of theatre. There's no stage and no audience, but it's still about sharing something dynamic, about revealing conflict, and about connecting with other people. "As both clinician and client, I've been fortunate to have experienced both sides of social work. And I know how much can be learned on both sides. Wherever you sit, it's very touching, very moving, and very expansive."
Isabel Saéz is an EAP program consultant and maintains an active multicultural practice in New York City.
"I decided on social work school after 15-plus years in corporate marketing and public relations in New York and Miami. The corporate experience, although excellent, left me wanting more—the ability to be more involved, to contribute on a deeper level, and to serve. I suppose I wanted to give back in some small way for a life abundant with blessings.
"Deciding to apply to NYU's social work school was one of the best decisions in my life. The whole experience started a journey that brought me to a place that is so much more than a job or even a profession; it's a paradigm shift in the way one approaches life and work.
"For me, NYU provided an environment that was a superb preparation for the real world of social work. I found the classes challenging and exciting, with a good mix of courses taught by a knowledgeable, dedicated, and accessible faculty.
"Part of my mission is to meld the best of my corporate experience with a philosophy of service to create an optimal working environment where people and service are the priorities. The MSW program provided a springboard rich with possibilities."
Jim Pypelink earned an MSW from NYU in 2004 and is a social worker/therapist at the Federation Employment and Guidance Service's Manhattan Continuing Day Treatment Program.
Delphain Demosthenes selected social work as the best professional education to give him better skills for his work with parishioners, particularly the intergenerational issues often confronting immigrant families. An immigrant from Haiti at age 13, Mr. Demosthenes graduated from Yale Divinity School and has been working to assist the Haitian community for many years as pastor of the French Speaking Baptist Church of New Rochelle.
"I found it welcoming as an older student to have an age mix in my classes and that the faculty communicated a sense of caring for your well being as a person, not just as a student. Faculty made an effort to know my name and my story. The professors I've worked with made a conscious effort to get to know me.
"The faculty created an environment that fosters open-mindedness and commitment to rights and social justice. They prepared me with hands-on clinical skills and gave me a great academic foundation in theories of human behavior and an appreciation for the complexity of the individual. I learned to take a person-in-environment approach and not make a quick evaluation—to allow myself to look from different angles. I was encouraged to be 'where the person is,' which is so important for working clinically with people."
His Westchester field placements provided hands-on experience with the seriously mentally ill and in working with children and couples through a community-based mental health agency.
Mr. Demosthenes graduated from the School's two year program. He will continue his ministry and work towards fulfilling a long-held goal of establishing a nonprofit counseling and community development center.
"One of the most important things that I learned at NYU is to have an open mind. In class, I was taught to broaden my definition of social work and to use a wide range of approaches to being a clinician. In the field, I learned how to be a flexible and effective social worker and about the diverse roles that a social worker can have.
"As a student in the extended program at NYU, I had a schedule that allowed me to complete my degree at a manageable pace. My time at the School of Social Work prepared me for a rewarding career working with others."
Kelsey Louie received his MSW in 2001. He has worked professionally in community mental health and substance abuse and is now Director of Queens Family Services of the New York Founding Hospital.