Part-Time Program Student Spotlight: Suzanne Sawyer

Headshot of Suzanne Sawyer
Suzanne Sawyer

Year in the program:  
I am in my 3rd year in the PTP

Focus area:
Aging & Health

Future job interest:
Ideally, to work as a patient advocate in a hospital or long-term care facility. I have also considered working in community health, in programs administered by an agency such as the ADRC.

Why did you choose to the Part-Time Program?
I chose the part time program partially based on the advice of my advisors at Winona State University who told me I had way too much life experience to start with a BSW and told me of the advantages of the program itself. The instructors are experts in their field, and we can learn the most current and relevant practice information. As my advisors at Winona foretold, I learn almost as much from other students as from the instructors.

How would you describe your experience in the Part-Time MSW Program?
I can honestly say that I have changed on a deep personal level since starting this program. My internship with domestic violence survivors opened my eyes to what social work is on the front-line. I really enjoyed the experience and came out of that school year much more confident in my ability to succeed as a social worker.

What has been your favorite course so far in the program and why?
My favorite course so far has been the Generalist Practice with Communities and Organizations course with Jessica Barrickman. The assignments for this course took me out of my comfort zone, where learning happens. I was fortunate to be able to attend a Housing Authority meeting as part of the course. The meeting made it clear to me that if I was there to participate (and not observe), I would need to be able to view the situation from the micro to the macro level. If I should wish to make change happen, I would also need to able to work inter-professionally.

How do you think the Part-Time MSW Program has prepared you for entering the field of social work?
The opportunity for having my internship concurrent with a field seminar class where we can discuss our placements with classmates has been invaluable. Each classmate had a different experience that gave us snapshots of potential jobs in the social work field. My first internship placement really changed me. I was initially doubtful about my ability to succeed as a social worker. By the end of my second year, I felt like a social worker and started thinking like one.

What would you say to someone who is considering the program?
I would tell someone considering this program that it has advantages: flexibility, weekend classes, excellent teachers who are current in their specialties, and an outstanding education. I would also caution them that it does get difficult and can strain families. It is not a decision to be taken lightly.

What’s one effective (or ineffective) strategy you’ve used to while attending classes remotely during Covid?Treating classes as if they were in person has helped maintain a routine every week for completing schoolwork. I have taken up Chinese Brush Painting as a stress reliever and have been happily impressed with how painting as part of my morning routine relieves stress. I do try to stay with a regular routine, but I still have had occasional trouble remembering what day it is!