Dave Sanchez-Courter: Social Work Program Helped Me to Envision New Approaches Toward Policy Change

UM-Flint social work senior Dave Sanchez-Courter

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 Dave Sanchez-Courter had to say:

The UM-Flint Social Work Department’s strengths-based model truly revolutionizes how we perceive our relationships with our clients and the existing pathways out of poverty.

We’re talking to our clients about what strengths they do have, focusing on the richness of their world rather than the deficits of their world. We look at the things in their life that are working well, and it allows them to see themselves differently. Based on my experiences with poverty, I really believe a strengths-based perspective in the field has the potential to be a powerful thing if it’s coupled with policy changes. As an agent of change, if you can help someone identify what motivates them and how they are fulfilled by what they do, that is so powerful.

I’m pursuing graduate school because I want to teach a new generation of social workers based on this model and with emphasis on political science so they can understand policy as it applies to marginalized populations. Over time, we can change the framework of a political activist from screaming on the outside to making change happen from the inside.

The social work faculty here are student-centered. The teaching environment allows us to experiment and view everything as a learning opportunity. The program asks you to go beyond yourself and test the outer limits of who you are. Not everybody can do that. I applaud the faculty for doing that. They’re not asking anything of us that they are not doing themselves.

For the future of the program, the strengths-based model is amazing. Learning my strengths showed me why I acted the way I did in certain situations. It helped me understand why I chose my past careers, like being a consultant for large corporations, and why I gravitated toward human rights in just about everything I did. At 61 years old, I’m a new person and I attribute that to the UM-Flint Social Work Program.

For information about the BSW Program at UM-Flint visit: www.umflint.edu/socialwork