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College of Social Work


Student Spotlight: Margaret Carnes

Mar. 6, 2019
Chris Woodley •
cwoodley@mailbox.sc.edu 

Margaret Carnes never considered a social work career as she prepared to receive her bachelor’s degree in visual arts from Clemson University last year. But one conversation led the Greenville native to pursue her Master of Social Work.

Why did you decide to attend the University of South Carolina College of Social Work?

At the end of my senior year as an undergrad at Clemson University, I wanted to study for my master’s in art therapy. After speaking with an art therapist, she said that if she could go back in time, she would get her MSW because it is more employable and provides a broader education in the field of service.

What inspired or motivated you to study social work?

My passion for serving others, fighting oppression and being an advocate for justice has grown throughout my life thanks to my own personal experiences and the experiences of others, especially marginalized groups. Researching the social work field excited me more than any other graduate studies focus.

What advice would you give someone considering studying social work?

It is important to figure out how to balance self-care with your field placement and stay on top of assignments. The syllabi tell you everything you need to know. Get a good planner and use it!

Do you think social work is a misunderstood career?

People’s initial reaction is to inform me of how my future will consist of financial instability, nights of crying and being tired all the time. They also do not understand the broad spectrum of social work as a practice and how it more than just working for the Department of Social Services. I love surprising people with the facts, and they end up respecting the field and my decision to perform an emotionally tough job for the betterment of society.

What traits are necessary to be a successful social worker?

Social Workers must always be self-aware, and that can be plenty to think about on top of your clients’ needs. They are required to be as open minded as possible, while remembering that everyone has their own reality, experiences, beliefs, thoughts and communities. Therefore, social workers must keep a multidimensional approach to intervention with clients.

What do you enjoy most about attending the UofSC College of Social Work and living in Columbia?

Because I came from Clemson University, living in Columbia (aka enemy territory) was not ideal, and I had a difficult time accepting my move. But my favorite part about the University of South Carolina are my peers and professors. We are all different yet connected through social work.

What are your post-graduation plans?

My plan is to start a career in the health and mental health field while incorporating my original desire to practice art therapy. I am excited about the connections I will make in this program and where my knowledge will take me.