Kristen Twitty: Social Work Program Helped Me Find My Voice

UM-Flint social work senior Kristen Twitty

Editor’s Note: We asked a few of our graduating seniors to tell us about their experiences with the UM-Flint Social Work Program. Here’s what Kristen Twitty had to say:

I like that the UM-Flint BSW Program’s new developmental model reframes our perceived weaknesses. For example, I’ve been told I’m too sensitive and to “shake it off” when something happens – but I’ve learned from the social work program’s new model that I have the strength of empathy and the ability to connect well with others. It’s easier to make your strengths even better than focus on improving a weakness. Knowing one another’s strengths in class also helps us all to work better together.

I learned from the social work program how to establish a rapport with someone and how to talk to someone and honor their dignity as a human being. It’s about building a relationship with that person so they will trust you and so you can get the information you need to help them. You might be dealing with families out in the field, too. I learned about being a professional, and I’ve had some really good experiences with faculty here who have given me some good opportunities along the way.

I plan to go on to graduate school. When I go into practice, I want to work with people who are mentally ill. The medical model is very deficit-oriented. This strengths-based approach will help me to focus on what clients do have that is positive like being a good friend or other positive qualities. When you get into the actual practice area, you learn how to apply a theory you learned in class. I’m interning at Hurley ER and doing psychiatric assessments. This experience has put everything I’ve learned in class into context. It made me see that I can really do this!

The program helped me to be able to find my voice and to be an advocate for other people, too. When I’ve had differences of opinions with medical staff about a patient’s assessment, I’ve spoken up about it and have helped that patient. One thing the program focuses on is listening and understanding other people’s perspectives and where they come from, and realizing that having a different opinion is not necessarily wrong.