STELLAR Student profile: Monica Shallow

Empowering people and giving a voice to the marginalized and oppressed are the main reasons why senior Monica Shallow chose to pursue a career in social work. However, Shallow did not really learn about the social work profession until adulthood.

Senior social work major Monica Shallow.

“My co-workers would come into my office and ask me for advice [and] they started referring to me as their counselor,” Shallow said. “I knew this was my gift and somehow needed to make a career of it.”

Shallow, who was one of the students selected to receive the College of Arts and Science’s STELLAR student award, said she is interested in helping people work out their struggles to be able to live life well.

Shallow acknowledges that becoming a full-fledged licensed social worker is a lengthy process. After she earns her B.A. in social work next spring, she plans to continue her education to get a master’s degree.

“After that I will get a job in the field, find a licensed social worker willing to supervise me while I accrue 3,000 hours of work experience required for licensure for private practice, and then take the licensing exam,” Shallow explained. “Ultimately, my goal is to counsel individual clients and be self-employed.”

According to Shallow, social workers’ skills are adaptable to a variety to settings – hospitals, schools, social service agencies, for-profit corporations, international programs and agencies, adoption, hospice and prisons to name a few.

“We are problem solvers who draw on the strengths of our clients, and see them within the context of their environment – this is unique to our profession,” Shallow said. “While other disciplines are looking to fix just one piece of the puzzle, we look at the whole puzzle.”

As an example, Shallow said doctors fix a particular physical ailment, whereas social workers consider the bigger picture: what kinds of mental health things do we need to consider, where the person is living, how are their social relationships, do they have access to the things they need and more?

According to Shallow, the best part of SIUE’s Social Work program is the people involved.

“We are so fortunate to have really dedicated, genuine professors and instructors who care deeply about their students and our profession, Shallow said. “We’re a tight-knit group, we help each other out and lift one another up.”

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