Grad Story #14


Grad Story #14


Amy Swart 

Masters of Social Work, Campus program



After your bachelors degree at Bethel University, you came to UND for a Bachelor of Science in Social Work – How did you come to choose UND?


In my case, after I graduated from Bethel, I got married. My husband and I were looking for programs in the region that would suit both our needs. He’s working on a Master’s degree in Biology and UND is a place that worked out for both us. We’ll be graduating in December.


My goal was always to come here for the Masters in Social Work, so I appreciated UND’s fast-track program that allows people like me who had an undergraduate degree in something other than Social Work – Psychology in my case – to get that BSSW in one year, and then I could go into the MSW program. It worked out for both of us where we could go together and start on the next stage of our journey, so to speak. This semester I am doing my internship and he’s writing his thesis.


I understand you are doing that internship at Altru Hospital. Is it a clinical internship?


Yes. I am doing a clinical placement at Altru in the Behavioral Health Unit. It’s a clinical social work unit that specializes in assessments, intakes, therapy and treatment plans. Actually my field instructor is Angie Muhs who is also an adjunct professor for the Department of Social Work. It’s a fabulous internship and Angie is a phenomenal supervisor. I’ve learned so much from her. I was able to find a placement that really meets my needs and my interests. It’s definitely what I want to do and I’m getting first hand experience. It’s really preparing me to go out and do my love and my passion which is why I decided to get my Master’s degree in the first place.


Can you talk about that supervisor/mentor relationship, working with someone who you are more or less aspiring to be?


It’s just a great experience. I’ve really been blessed to be in these situations where I’ve worked with these mentors. In my internships, for example, the culture of learning and teaching, and really supporting students and helping them to reach their goals is really very strong. In my internship, my supervisor helps me learn, teaches me along the way and makes it comfortable for me to ask questions. That’s why I’m there – I’m there to learn and she does a fabulous job of leading me on the path to professional discovery and fine tuning my skills so when I do graduate I’ll be prepared.


And I’ve also had that experience with the faculty, in classes. I work with Dr Carenlee Barkdull as a GRA and that’s allowed me to fine tune my research skills and developed a relationship where she has been able to guide me along my professional discovery as well. Amy Phillips was my advisor, and she allowed me to explore my own research topics and has supported my decisions, really helping me grow along the way.


They are just two individuals with whom I’ve worked, but I have gotten to know lots of the faculty and I’ve appreciated their support and their expertise. As a GRA, I have had the privilege of working more closely with some of the faculty and I’ve really appreciated that too, as I have seen more of the academic side of Social Work, and the research component.


You’re a GRA, you’re undertaking the coursework on campus and you have an internship. How do you balance all of that?


Well, for this Fall my coursework is complete except for my internship plus the seminars where we come to class for 5 Fridays and work on projects with our cohort who are also in the field. It’s nice because I’ve done the background was able to hit the class work hard to prepare me for the internship and now put that knowledge into practice. Then doing some of the processing and discussing the ethics of our placements and Social Work in general. It’s nice to have that focused study at this time. And I am a quarter time (10 hours) Research Assistant again this semester and that's helped me to fit everything in. I’ve been able to find a good balance between my work and my internship.


What should a prospective grad student know?


My advice? I would say, be organized. And that will work different ways for different people. Stay on top of things. You know what your expectations are, and they’re high expectations so be aware of them. I say work ahead! I know lots of people may not like that, but I do. I’d rather finish the paper early than do it the night before!

But it’s certainly a place where you can work hard and succeed, and achieve your goals. It’s a supportive environment, and it requires dedication and hard work, But I have also felt supported. It’s been great.


When you graduate, where do you see yourself?


My plan is to work towards my licensure and become a licensed independent clinical social worker and to work in clinical settings. Ideally to work in outpatient settings whether it is a community based place or a hospital. I would like to work in the mental health area, providing therapeutic services. 

With my undergraduate degree in Psychology, I have a foundation and an interest in that area and now with a graduate degree in Social Work, I want to be able to use those skills I have learned and be able to apply those with the population that I care about. And I look forward to getting that independent licensure and becoming that mental health professional to help those that need someone to talk to.





Susan Caraher


The Graduate School



Original Format





Susan Caraher, “Grad Story #14,” Grad Stories, accessed July 21, 2018,