What’s better than completing a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education?

The answer for Joshua Hager is completing two of them at Shippensburg University.

After Hager graduated from Chambersburg Area Senior High School, he started his academic career at Ship in a different program. He felt like he wasn’t quite on the right path. That’s when a friend and fellow student discussed the social work program with him. He then went on to become a 2019 graduate of the Bachelor of Social Work program and a member of the class of 2020 in the Master of Social Work program.

“I feel that when I made the switch to the social work major, I already felt so accepted by the faculty members. They have provided me with many different styles of teaching that have made it possible for me to get creative with my projects and go outside of my comfort zone in terms of content. They were always so welcoming and available to talk with you about anything from the professional to the personal. When I became a graduate assistant for the department in my graduate program, these relationships solidified even more,” Hager said. “Many of them also provided me with many opportunities to network with their colleagues and make connections that are still intact today.”

Hager gained an appreciation for the generalist approach of the programs, gaining preparedness on the micro, mezzo and macro levels along the way.

“I think that someone trying to enter (the social work program) has to learn how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Since the program is teaching people of all walks of life how to work with others from all walks of life, it involves a lot of self-reflection and being able to actively work on areas of growth. It also is important to note that social workers can be found in almost any work setting,” Hager said.

Despite being a commuter student throughout his time at Ship, Hager says he felt very at home as a part of the campus community.

“Within my program, I was surrounded by a variety of different people who encouraged me to grow and look outside of a narrow perspective in order to really expand my worldview. I cannot thank them enough for that. I also feel that there is a lot of outreach geared towards helping others to feel included.”

Read more stories from the Class of 2020.