Louisiana College senior social work major Caroline Weatherford was chosen by the Louisiana Council on Social Work Education to present a paper at a statewide National Association of Social Worker’s Conference in Baton Rouge, La., March 17.
Among all the papers submitted from Louisiana’s higher education social work programs, Weatherford’s committee-reviewed paper was top choice for presentation from the undergraduate level.
Originally written as part of Weatherford’s Social Work with Communities and Organizations’ coursework, the paper conjoins her class’s semester-long community service learning project focused on reducing the stigma of mental illness in Central Louisiana.
“I am honored to present this paper and am excited I was chosen,” Weatherford told LCNews. “But I am even more excited that I’ll be able to share the work that my classmates and I did. Hopefully, this will raise the awareness of stigma even more.”
Weatherford and her classmates completed two public awareness projects. The first was a “Chalk Out,” where students wrote statistics about mental illness on public sidewalks.
“The purpose was for people to read these statistics and, if they have a mental illness, be encouraged to know that they are not alone in their struggle,” Weatherford said.
The second project brought guest speakers into the classroom to “raise awareness about the stigma placed on mental illness in hopes that college students and community members would fight against that,” she added.
“Caroline has an excellent opportunity to present at a statewide conference because she will gain experience speaking at a professional meeting, and it will benefit her as she pursues graduate school and her professional career in social work,” said assistant professor of social work, Bobbye Roberts.
“This opportunity strongly validates Caroline’s writing and research skills, as well as her project planning, assessment, implementation, and evaluation — all of which are strong indicators of substantial academic efforts,” Roberts said.
Weatherford is a student who is “conscientious about every aspect of her education,” Roberts added. “She consistently demonstrates a superior work ethic and possesses exceptional interpersonal skills as well, all of which are beneficial to her as she will eventually becomes a licensed counselor in this profession.”
Roberts noted that the committee’s choice of Weatherford’s paper underscores “the preparedness of Louisiana College’s social work students who plan to enter graduate programs of social work.”
Thanking both Roberts and Sheri Duffy, assistant professor of social work, Weatherford said all of her professors “have truly challenged me and pushed me beyond what I thought I could do. I have gained the knowledge and experience I need to further my education, and I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at LC in the social work department.”
“Beyond education, I deeply appreciate how much my social work professors have invested in me personally,” Weatherford noted. “They care about each of their students and want to see them succeed not only academically, but spiritually as well. That’s something you don’t find at many colleges.”
When asked about the source of her compassion, Weatherford said it “comes from my love for people and desire to help those who are hurting, which all flows from the grace that I have received in Christ. Because I have been shown such mercy and compassion, how can I not pour that out onto others?”
“Multiple times in Scripture we see Jesus moved by compassion into action,” Weatherford said. “As believers, we are all called to do that. For me, it happens to be on the career level.”