March is Social Work Appreciation Month. We have highlighted three alumni who are using their Campbell social work degrees to lead with purpose in their communities. For students and alumni wanting to connect with other social work graduates, we encourage you to visit our online mentoring platform CamelLink.
Shaquasha Williams, Outpatient and Intensive In-Home Therapist
As an outpatient and intensive in-home therapist, Shaquasha Williams (’17) works with at-risk youth, their families, and adults to improve their quality of life and relationships.
Shaquasha has a Bachelor’s of Science in Social Work and a minor in Psychology from Campbell University as well as a Masters in Social Work and Certificate in Substance Abuse Counseling from East Carolina University. Shaquasha strives to be a change agent for those in need.
Seeing first-hand the impact of childhood adversity, trauma, and substance abuse, Shaquasha learned the importance and necessity of mental health therapists and psychologists. Dedicated to connecting with those in need, she discusses strategies with her clients to help them overcome their struggles and hopefully “increase their overall sense of self.”
Social work comes with many challenges, including clients’ boundaries, inadequate resources, stigmas surrounding mental health and counseling, and cultural or language barriers. However, Shaquasha continuously works to overcome these limitations with training, her co-workers’ knowledge and experience, research, and what she says is the most important thing she can do for her clients: “meeting the client where they are.”
Shaquasha credits her Campbell education with giving her the foundation she needed to launch her career and transform into the person she is now.
“My Campbell education created my love and passion for the field of social work and being a change agent. The foundations and skills [I] learned in addition to the various professionals I have grown to know has helped in fostering the professional that I am today that has contributed to my success.”
Ben Bursey, STEM Teacher
Ben Bursey (’15) found both mentors and his calling of advocating for children while a student in Campbell’s School of Education.
As a social work major, Ben found mentors in Drs. Eugene Sumner and Susie Barnes. Ben remembers Dr. Sumner fondly, appreciating his great knowledge of the social work field along with his willingness to share his experiences and answer his questions. Ben shares, “After I was done reading chapters from my textbooks or finished a test, I would go to his office and discuss it with him. I enjoyed how he would take the time out of his day to answer all of my theoretical questions about how I could be better at helping others. Dr. Sumner not only acted as my professor but also as my academic advisor; my interactions with him inspired me to be a school counselor.”
Ben related to Dr. Barnes’ laid-back personality and attributes his own teaching style to her. Ben saw first-hand how impactful a mentor can be and felt inspired to do the same for others, so he turned to teaching after graduation. Dedicated to the wellbeing of his students, Ben uses skills like these every day in the classroom. Ben, now a teacher at The Academy of Moore County, a charter school focusing on STEM/STEAM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math). He teaches his kids STEM skills and their real-world applications.
“A great mentor in one’s corner can help them grow closer to God, earn better grades, and be more confident in who they are as a person,” Ben added, acknowledging how blessed he is to “have met amazing, life-long friends from Campbell, my family, and co-workers that can help guide me in my professional life. Dr. Sumner was definitely a catalyst in my life that helped me to become a better man; I make it a conscious effort to do the same for everyone I encounter.”
Ben thanked Campbell for teaching him to trust God in all circumstances and giving him the confidence to reach out when he needs help. “I know I’ve grown a lot since college because I am more confident, diligent, and assertive in my life. From working in schools, I’ve learned it’s important for me to be flexible, organized, and to be teachable.” Ben is currently working on his Masters in School Counseling from Liberty University.
Kristin Whatley, Case Manager and Stabilization Specialist
Kristin Whatley (’11) has seen more than her fair share of the suffering that can arise from
addiction and substance abuse.
Kristin went to Campbell University thinking she wanted to be a middle school teacher, but when she spent time in an actual classroom, she realized that was not her calling. She still wanted to help people, but didn’t know how.
While at Campbell, Kristin took a life-changing internship at the Department of Social Services. Seeing firsthand “the ugly truth” of substance abuse and the life-long recovery process transformed her perspective and put her down a new career path she had not considered before.
Her teachers at Campbell all had a hand in guiding and shaping Kristin into who she is today. They helped her discover, utilize, and grow her ability to “read between the lines” and understand people and families. Kristin made a group of friends on campus with whom she made wonderful memories. While on the Campus Activities Board, she also learned the organizational and planning skills she still uses today.
Kristin now works with the YMCA of Greater Boston in their homeless shelter program, assisting single mothers with substance abuse recovery as well as finding housing and stability “so they never have to be in a shelter situation again!”
In addition, Kristin teaches parenting and job skills, especially to single mothers. She assists homeless families in overcoming barriers to finding affordable housing. Kristin also works with the children at the YMCA shelters and advocates for their needs.
“The biggest challenge is knowing when to stop holding their hand,” Kristian says, describing the nerve-wracking feeling that accompanies it. “This profession makes you feel like a parent to many of your clients and learning when to let go is the most difficult part.”
Through her experience, Kristin has grown more aware of the role of mental health in addiction and daily life. “There are many times growing up where you might say ‘oh this is normal…it’s just a phase’ when really it’s crucial you get help before it gets worse.” She urges others to see these warning signs for what they are and seek help.
Kristin recognizes Campbell with helping her “understand myself and what I wanted to do in my life. When I first walked into Buies Creek, I thought I knew my whole life plan. Four years later I was heading in a different direction.”
“The School of Education is very proud of its current students and alums. As you can see, a social work degree allows students to obtain a broad set of skills and use them in a variety of careers aimed at serving their communities.” – Dean Al Bryant, School of Education