Oct. 18, 2021
Community Development MSW Perfect Fit for Alumna
After taking her Bachelor of Social Work with the University of Calgary’s Edmonton campus, and working professionally in Edmonton’s inner-city for seven years, Jennie Gurnett figured that she knew everything about UCalgary’s social work program.
Then she discovered the International and Community Development Master of Social Work stream.
“When I started going down the road of applying for an MSW,” says Gurnett, “I saw that there was this whole other program that focused on development in the community context. I was thrilled and immediately switched my specialty. It was a really lovely surprise. And I was thankful because I don't love Clinical. I’d always heard from professors that it was just good to have. And that – even if I didn't want to practice on my own – that it would open a lot of doors. It was amazing to find a more specialized program in the field I was already in, and already passionate about.”
A lot of people are surprised to discover that UCalgary Social Work has an entire stream devoted to community development in local and international community contexts. Part of this is likely because “international” is listed first in the name. However, having worked with youth in the inner-city Gurnett was far more interested in what she could learn that would help her in Edmonton.
“Having a master's, I think, opens a lot more opportunities – with the City (of Edmonton) or perhaps even doing some research on the side,” she says. “I think that was a big part of my push to go back to school (to do her MSW). Having worked with youth for several years, I often felt I would hit a wall with the work I was doing.
“I just wasn’t sure how to pursue more change for them (the youth) or how to push agencies to be a little more adaptive. I just kept hitting these walls that I felt I wasn't qualified to question. So now, going back with a little bit more knowledge under my belt – and a bit more experience, I’m hoping to be a more effective advocate for the populations that I work with.”
“Having a master's, I think, opens a lot more opportunities – with the City (of Edmonton) or perhaps even doing some research on the side. I think that was a big part of my push to go back to school. Having worked with youth for several years, I often felt I would hit a wall with the work I was doing." - Jennie Gurnett
As a mother with young children Gurnett says she really relished her time in the program. particularly because she forged relationships with a spectacular cohort of fellow students and allowed her to learn from experienced community builders with experience in a number of contexts.
“All these brilliant women from different disciplines and different backgrounds,” she says. “For me, that was a huge part of why the program was excellent. These are women who have worked in various fields and in various disciplines and bring all that expertise to the classroom. Then, in addition, were the professors who were brought their own incredible experience. That to me was where the magic really happened, in integrating the content and the readings that we were doing with all that life experience. That was so amazing for me.”
For students who apply with a Bachelor of Social Work degree, the International and Community Development Master of Social Work is a flexible, two-year program that is taught mostly online with annual residencies.
If you have questions for instructors, or would, perhaps like to speak to a former or current student, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Deadline to apply is Nov. 1.