–by Maureen Zambito
WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., March 5, 2018 — West Liberty University’s Department of Social Work received an $80,000 grant recently that is making a real difference in practical student experience.
Juniors Gregory Gust and Kaitlynn Hewitt have received the social work awards this academic year.
Social Work Program Director Dr. Sylvia Hawranick Senften submitted the grant and is quick to point out that it benefits both WLU students and others.
“West Liberty University students are benefitting from the funds through scholarship awards and hands-on experience with the Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR). The students in turn become well-trained employees after earning their degrees. We are grateful for this new partnership,” Senften said.
This new partnership with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources is supported by funds through Title IV-4 of the Social Security Act, according to Senften and it provides tuition wavers and stipends for up to two years for qualified social work majors.
Students who are awarded the scholarships will complete their internships at the DHHR and will be employed there upon graduation.
Hewitt, who is from Moundsville, is now finishing her internship at the DHHR and will graduate in May. Gust is a junior and will complete his DHHR internship next year.
Gust, now a Weirton resident originally is from Powhatan Point, Ohio. He entered college as a music education major before switching to social work.
“I’m excited to have the opportunity to receive a tuition scholarship of course, but to also have the experience of working in the DHHR and prepare me for the next step in my career is wonderful,” Gust said. Since he’s looking forward to his wedding in June 2019, to WLU music education major Emily Fournier, it is especially helpful.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for hard working students who select social work as their career. West Liberty University’s Department of Social Work is pleased to offer it to students,” Senften said.
Another component of the grant is that the social work program provides training to DHHR employees who do not have a social work degree. This training is mandated throughout the state and WLU is one of six schools in West Virginia providing it.
“We have been doing this now for a few months and the benefit is clear. We are helping train these employees on methods and practices that are consistent with professional social work best practices and current issues,” Senften said.
WLU’s social work program is accredited through the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE) and is housed in the College of Liberal Arts. Please reach Dr. Senften at 304.336.8089 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Established in 1837, West Liberty University now offers more than 70 undergraduate majors, plus a growing number of graduate programs including master degrees in education, physician assistant studies, criminology, biology, professional studies and an online MBA.