STELLAR Student profile: Paula Tarbell

Paula Tarbell believes in the value of social workers to promote social justice and empowering people to solve their problems.

Senior social work major Paula Tarbell

“One of the things I love about social work is that it comes from a strengths perspective [where] people are viewed within their entire environment, not just as a diagnoses/situation,” Tarbell said. “Everyone has inner and outer strengths that can help them grow and change if they desire to.”

Tarbell, who was one of the students selected to receive the College of Arts and Science’s STELLAR student award, said her long-term career goal is to be a licensed clinical social worker after receiving a master of social work (MSW) and completing 3,000 hours of clinical supervision.

Senior social work major Tarbell said she has always been interested in social justice.

“I see myself working at a community counseling agency after I complete my education, which will expose me to many different types of clients and issues,” Tarbell said.

Tarbell said there is a wealth and variety of experiences among SIUE social work’s faculty.

“We are also privileged to be one of only a few programs in the country that have simulated clients (actors) to work with, as opposed to using our classroom peers to practice client skills,” Tarbell said.

According to Tarbell, even though she has learned from all her instructors, she especially mentioned professors Bryan Duckham and Mary Plocher as her mentors.

“They are both licensed clinical social workers and are the kind of therapists that I want to emulate,” Tarbell said. “They teach important skills in empathy, non-judgment and active listening with clients, but they also extend those qualities to their students.”

Tarbell said she hopes to attend the MSW graduate program at SIUE so she can continue to learn from them and the rest of the social work faculty.

“People that go into social work are kind and caring people and it is definitely one of the best groups of people I’ve ever had the pleasure of being a part of,” Tarbell said. “I am old enough to be a mother to most of my social work cohorts and they have never made me feel different or excluded.”

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