In the Spotlight

Our Students in the Spotlight!

Our Students in the Spotlight!

Marty Meier of North Grand Neighborhood Services orients students to the JeffVanderLou neighborhood in St. Louis City

Our Alumni in the Spotlight!

Our Alumni in the Spotlight!

As a non-traditional student, my experience in the Master of Social Work Program at UMSL has been everything I hoped!

Our Facutly in the Spotlight!

Our Facutly in the Spotlight!

School of Social Work Faculty in Action! (photo by August Jennewein)

Our Students in the Spotlight!
Our Alumni in the Spotlight!
Our Facutly in the Spotlight!

School of Social Work Students in the Spotlight!

North Grand Neighborhood Services





Marty Meier of North Grand Neighborhood Services orients students to the JeffVanderLou neighborhood in St. Louis City. As part of their Community Practice and Social Change course (SW5300 taught by Holly Ingraham), MSW students volunteered a Saturday working in the neighborhood. Students assisted in building a playground fence outside of the CHIPS health and wellness center, a medical clinic for low-income families and uninsured residents in St. Louis.

Students also worked with area youth to mix and bake cookies at Angel Baked. SW5300 Student In Action!Angel Baked is a social enterprise of North Grand Neighborhood Services that empowers youth through employment, training, and personal development.

Practicum students inspire hope
and change lives!

Linda Downey Social work students know they will be using the practice skill learned in social work courses in their agency practicum.  Most cannot imagine how they will change lives.

Linda Downey’s practicum provides mental health services through a crisis hot line that provides services to callers across the country. One evening the call Linda answered was from someone who had possibly taken pills to commit suicide.  That evening, Linda utilized her coping skills and education she had recently received regarding suicide assistance and attempted to engage the caller. With the help of a co-worker, Linda attempted to keep in contact with the caller while local police were contacted to try and locate the caller with no identifying information, other than a phone number. Even after the local police who were tracking the phone number said the call came from within a 1000 mile radius of town in another state, Linda  kept trying to engage the caller who continued to refuse to give her address, would get angry and hang up and, eventually, stopped answering the phone.  Finally three and a half hours later, Linda learned that police in a city about 500 miles away had located the caller and, although the caller was unconscious, they were able to take her to the emergency room for help.  Afterwards, Linda said she was “ grateful for the education I received to help me stay calm and feel more prepared to take action.”

School of Social Work Most Recent Graduate in the Spotlight!

Kirsten in Rwanda 








A Note from Rwanda!

We recently received the following email and photo from Kirsten Weaver.  She and her husband Doug left St. Louis shortly after her graduation last May (2013) for their Peace Corps assignment in Rwanda. 

Hello Professors!

I have been thinking about you all and my time in the Social Work program lately and decided to send you all a little note.

My husband, Doug, and I are doing exceptionally well here in Rwanda. We have started teaching and really love it. We live in Rubengera, a somewhat up-and-coming village about 20 minutes from the gorgeous Lake Kivu (on the Congo border--we can see the mountains of Congo from our site). We work at a Teacher Training College and teach upper level students (ages 15-25). They are excellent and we love working with them. The teachers we work alongside are also the experience has been great so far.

I am teaching English (creative writing, speaking, and listening). Doug is teaching art, music, drama, and physical education. So we are both in our element here. Doug is doing some painting here as well, of our experience, and I have been doing a lot of writing.

I am always looking for ways to use my social work degree here. There are, obviously, a lot of issues here due to the genocide...and an overwhelming lack of mental health. So, I am always brainstorming ideas on how I can be of service to these people.



As a non-traditional student, my experience in the Master of Social Work Program at UMSL was everything I hoped. My interactions with the professors, staff, and fellow classmates were incredibly enlightening.  The atmosphere was supportive in many ways.  I am proud to say I am confident that the educational foundation that I have acquired will last throughout my social work career.  In addition, I feel an overwhelming sense of joy knowing that I have become part of a lifelong network of professional people.  If anyone asked whether I would recommend the program to prospective students, I would answer, "Yes without a doubt." Anonymous

I am a former BSW student and just wanted to say hello. I am currently working as a behavioral health supervisor and also in private practice. While at UMSL, I worked to organize our Student Social Work Association with your (Dr. Lois Pierce) help. I am glad to I always remember our positive interactions and what a great experience I had in the BSW program. Sincerely, Shannon Oesch

School of Social Work Alumni in the Spotlight!

Captain Cadee BerckCaptain Candee B. Berck

School of Social Work Alumni
Achieves Her Dream!

Captain Candee Berck currently serves as a Mental Health Provider in the Peak Performance Center at the United States Air Force Academy.  She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (Tennessee).  Captain Berck is rated as a Biomedical Science Corps Officer.

Captain Berck graduated from University of Arkansas in May 2004 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication and before joining the Air Force completed a Masters of Arts in Communication in December 2004.  She earned her Master of Social Work degree from the University of Missouri St. Louis in May 2010.  Before returning to active duty Air Force, she worked for Colorado Department of Corrections providing mental health-related services to prisoners prior to their parole and community correction boards.

Captain Berck received her commission through the Reserve Officer Training Corps and entered the Air Force as a Second Lieutenant January 2005. She began her career at Keesler AFB where she completed Air Traffic Control and Airfield Operations technical training and then she PCS’d to 325th Operations Support Squadron at Tyndall Air Force base where she earned her first tower and radar approach control ratings through the Airfield Operations Officer Training Program.  In 2006, Captain Berck PCS’d to the 36th Operations Support Squadron at Andersen Air Force base in Guam.   While there, she performed as an Airfield Operations Flight Ops Officer for dual runway flight operations on 21.4M sq feet of airfield enabling safe/expeditious flow of 31K annual flight ops. During her tenure she was handpicked as the Wing Alternate SARC (Sexual Assault Response Coordinator) and took the lead during the SARC’s six month absence.  In 2008, she was deployed in support of the Joint Task Force Naval Air Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  In addition, she managed over 2.8K time sensitive airspace operations, processed over 3K country clearance requests, and coordinated with multiple agencies from the air traffic control tower to prevent mission delays.  In 2009, she separated from the Air Force to obtain her Master of Social Work degree and returned to active duty as a Social Work Officer in August 2011.

Captain Berck recently touched base with Dr. Margaret Sherraden, Founder’s Professor of the School of Social Work, and extended her gratitude by giving testimony to the MSW Program.

“It's great to be in touch with everyone again.  I cannot thank you all enough for working with me through your programs.  It has prepared me for the work I am currently doing with cadets in our college counseling center. We work with a wide range of issues, but I would have to say that a majority of my case load is dealing with young women who have been sexually assaulted/harassed.  We work through the trauma and prepare them for a successful future in the USAF.  It is an honor and a privilege to work with each individual and for such a great organization of our nation.  Thank you for helping me achieve my dreams.  I get paid to do something I love and for that...there is no price tag.”

Captain Berck would also like to extended a special thanks to the UMSL' s Gender Studies Program. "It truly helped shape new perspectives and provided a solid foundation for my line of work."

Melanie Gowdy Alumni Melanie Gowdy (MSW), who was featured in the St. Louis American Health Profile, pays tribute to the School of Social Work.

"There was an impact waiting to be made that only I could make. I am extremely grateful to several mentors, Dr. Margaret Sherrden, Ms. Patti Rosenthal, and Ms. Nikki Weinstein who helped me come to that realization.  I don’t think that it is a coincidence that I connected with all of these individuals through the Social Work program at UMSL. I gained so much academically, professionally, and personally through that program.  Every class gave me something that I was able to apply in my life. I felt like I was earning the degree for my own personal use!  But what an awesome tribute to UMSL’s Social Work staff and program to have such a deep and meaningful impact on its students."


School of Social Work Faculty in the Spotlight!

Full Professor promotion celebration!Congratulations to Dr. Sharon Johnson!

School of Social Work faculty and staff attend a celebration luncheon in honor of Dr. Sharon Johnson's promotion to full professor.

 Dr. Uma Segal


(photo by: August Jennenwien)

As featured in the August 21, 2013 UMSL Daily - Dr. Uma Segal recently received a J. William Fulbright Award for the fall 2013 semester.

The award helped Dr. Segal design and develop a new school of social work, with an emphasis on dual international and rural focus, for the Alliance University in Bangalore, India.

“I am very honored and pleased to have received this highly competitive scholarship as I have always been interested in international issues,” said Segal, a resident of Creve Coeur, Mo. “I have worked on research and education projects with colleagues across disciplines and on all continents. I will be working with UMSL’s School of Social Work and International Studies and Programs to create a collaboration with Alliance University from the ground up.”

As reported by the St. Louis American, Dr. Sha-Lai Williams was inducted into the Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society at the annual Bouchet Conference on Diversity in Graduate Education April 19-20 at Yale University.

Dr. Sha-Lai Williams









The Bouchet Graduate Society is named for the first African American, Edward Alexandar Bouchet, to receive a doctorate.  The Bochect Society promotes diversity and excellence in professorate, and awards doctoral candidates for outstanding scholarly achievement.

Dr. Sha-Lai Williams is our new assistant professor who joined the School of Social Work fall 2013. Her research includes cultural competence among social work and helping professionals and racial/ethnic disparities in access to and utilization of quality mental health services, with an emphasis on African Americans and emerging adults.