Why wouldn't I want to be a social worker? It is so broad with different tracks that will allow me to work with any population.
- Hannah Buckner
Passion can be defined as an intense, driving feeling or conviction, or a strong desire to an activity, object, or concept. Regardless of how passion is defined, Master of Social Work Advanced Standing student Hannah Buckner’s experiences have led to a strong desire for helping, advocating and educating others on her enthusiasm for social work.
Buckner’s decision to pursue a social work career was inspired by the support her family received following a personal tragedy. While still in her mother’s womb, Buckner and her twin sister were only the fifth case known to the fetal medicine practice to have twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome. The condition occurs in pregnancies where twins share vessels that supply oxygen and essential nutrients for development. Buckner’s mother was on bed rest for 12 weeks before giving birth. Buckner’s sister died, and the family faced trauma and fear.
“My parents were assigned a social worker to help them through that process after my mom gave birth,” Buckner says. “She was really helpful with helping us get accommodations and resources and being there for my mom.”
Buckner wanted to pursue social work to give back in the same way the social worker provided for her family. Even though she considered a teaching career, Buckner admits she was always drawn to the social work profession because of her passion of helping others and listening to their stories. She researched everything about social work and knew it was the perfect career. Buckner’s hometown university in Clemson, South Carolina did not offer a social work program, but she remained in-state at Winthrop University to study for her Bachelor of Social Work degree.
One of her experiences was a one-week study abroad in July 2019 to the Caribbean nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Led by one of her social work professors, who was a native of the country, the trip highlighted the country’s social and economic barriers and injustices.
“We went to government agencies and talked to social workers and others in helping professions,” Buckner says. “As part of our study, we saw different environmental injustices and met with St. Vincent government officials to discuss the injustices we found. Hopefully, the study will receive grant money to begin working on eliminating injustices. We had to be very observant since our time was short, but it was a great experience. I learned so much about myself in that one week.”
Buckner added that the experience helped her see injustices from a different perspective.
“I brought my American culture and perspectives into what I thought was environmentally unjust. But there were different perspectives from the residents,” Buckner says. “Learning the differences and my biases that I brought was helpful for broadening my worldview and understanding biases I didn’t know existed.”
Buckner has also advocated for social causes. She started a project at Winthrop for Child Abuse Awareness Month in April. Buckner and fellow students planted pinwheels, which represented every child abused in York County, South Carolina. The goal was to bring awareness and educate the campus and Rock Hill community about child abuse. Buckner will begin her field placement this fall at Project Search, an organization dedicated to helping and advocating for people with intellectual or physical disabilities receive equal employment opportunities.
“Part of my field practicum will be educating the community and working with participants of the program to helping them get employed,” Buckner says. “I was very involved in Rock Hill working with different agencies and how they could all work together. It's been more difficult here, but I am taking baby steps.”
Buckner did not have misconceptions about social work because of her research. But upon telling people that she is a future social worker, she often faces responses such as, “You’ll have a terrible job.” Buckner is not bothered by others’ misconceptions because of her knowledge of the social work field. Her career choice also aligns with her personal values and beliefs, and all her life, she has desired to help people, listen, advocate and walk alongside them.
“Why wouldn't I want to be a social worker? It is so broad with different tracks that will allow me to work with any population,” Buckner says. “I got six people at Winthrop to change their major to social work after talking to them and saying they would be a great candidate.”
Buckner recalled seeing a video at Winthrop that showed how social workers are heroes. She believes that each social worker has their own gifts and talents and putting them to full force can change the world.
“Every person is unique, and that is a gift. We are change agents and advocates for everyone,” Buckner says. “Social Workers can help people see the good in themselves, their strengths, and what they can accomplish.”