Originally from Maryland, Rachel Glime moved south for college with dreams of making the world a better place. Her plan was to earn a PhD in Psychology at a school in Mississippi; she was nearly through with her bachelor’s when a tough conversation with her adviser altered her course.
“I wanted to work in trauma and PTSD, particularly with the military, and he told me that earning a PhD is really more about research and not really working with people the way I wanted to,” Rachel said. She decided to add a minor in Human Rights with an emphasis in Law to her Psychology major so she could explore other options.
“I took a few social work classes with my minor, and my professors built up my confidence in myself and my interest in the field.” The practical nature of social work met Rachel’s passion for helping people, so she began to chart a new path forward.
Her social work professors told her about The University of Alabama’s Master of Social Work – a well-known and highly esteemed program. UA offers the MSW in a primarily online format that combines online coursework with some occasional in-person requirements. Rachel applied for the 60-credit-hour program since she did not yet hold a CSWE-accredited BSW, though there’s also a 42-credit-hour Advanced-Standing program for students who have that bachelor’s. The distance option appealed to Rachel’s love of travel and family – now that she was living in the South, she wanted to be able to go home and visit her family often. “I liked the fact that I could travel with it, and it allowed me to operate on my own time and schedule but still follow my passion.”
In December 2019, Rachel finished her bachelor’s in Psychology, and the next month, she got married and moved to Alabama. She began the MSW program in Fall 2020.
“The first semester, coursework has covered a lot of helpful background information: the basics of therapy, the history of social work, why it’s important and how it fits in today’s society. And in our labs, we are able to practice with our classmates what we’re learning about in class,” Rachel said.
In addition to the skills labs, the program also requires an internship component. UA helped Rachel find an internship with their Center for Student Leadership on campus, where she has been working remotely about 16-20 hours per week to complete the 400 internship hours required in the first year of the program. Due to social distancing measures, she completed her skills labs and internship requirements online even though these are usually face to face. “Much of my work has been research-based, looking at food tax policies in Alabama and why they’re an issue. I learned a lot about food insecure populations in Alabama and why so many people in the area suffer from hunger.”
As part of the internship, Rachel helped with Beat Auburn Beat Hunger, an annual competitive food drive between UA and Auburn University that raises money for food banks in East and West Alabama. Since 1994, the competition has raised over 7 million pounds of food for food insecure Alabamians.
Rachel said internship director Courtney Thomas has been especially helpful. “She meets with each of us individually and as a group to find out about what we want to do, and then she connects us with speakers and leaders already working toward those goals so we can see what it looks like.”
Rachel is on track to graduate in Spring 2022, and she’s excited about making a difference through social work. Ultimately, she wants to work with governments and organizations in policy analysis and implementation to serve individuals and communities by advising and overseeing policy changes that positively affect quality of life.
“I have a lot of passion projects I might work on one day – food insecurity issues, health care access and the criminal justice system, to name a few. There are lots of ways social work can play a part in ensuring greater equality and justice for everyone.”
Published: February 3rd, 2021