Student & Alumni Testimonials

Some students come to the program straight from their undergraduate work, while others have been out of school for many years. Below are comments from graduating students made during Clinical Research Paper Presentation Day about why they chose the St. Kate's - St. Thomas MSW clinical social work program and some of the highlights of their experiences:

Whitney Wessels

Whitney Wessels, MSW '14

Before the MSW, I was in a psychology program. I knew I was interested in mental health, but realized what was missing was the social justice piece. This is something I'm passionate about and is very specific to social work. It has allowed me to encompass everything I care about into one profession. One thing that really helped me was developing a personality and identity as a social worker. All of my supervisors and professors helped me incorporate my background and personality into what I do. Now I can't imagine being anything but a social worker!

Hear more from Whitney in this YouTube video»

Danielle Lee, MSW '15

Danielle Lee, MSW '15

I've always valued the relationships with people and [helping] them work towards whatever goals they're working on. I think that clinical social work lends itself to that relationship-building piece. Also, it opens a lot of doors to other things you can do, like working in a school or a hospital or [doing] traditional therapy.

I think all the professors are so engaging and willing to help. They bring in so much real-world experience from the outside jobs they have. [They are] able to take that experience and put it into a case study or something that you're learning so that you can really understand what's going on.

Hear more from Danielle in this YouTube video»

Tim Markgraf

Tim Markgraf, MSW '15

Weekend Cohort

The amount of time spent on the clinical aspect of social work is what stood out about this program. Whether you want to be involved in therapy with people and really dig in clinically, or work with child protection, or if you're in a hospital setting - to have a firm base of clinical knowledge will serve you well no matter which aspect of the profession you jump into. That clinical knowledge is vital to success not only for yourself as an individual, but success for the people you're working with. That's one of our core philosophies as social workers: to really get out there and help people move forward and progress with their strengths. Having the clinical knowledge puts you in a better position to do so. 

Hear more from Tim in this YouTube video»

Elizabeth Soung, MSW '15

Elizabeth Soung, MSW '15

I did my undergrad at St. Kate's - St. Thomas, and I loved it. The faculty are so down-to-earth, warm, and academic-focused.

Even though my clinical placement wasn't at an outpatient mental health clinic, learning to apply myself and how to look at the social work "clinical lens," really brought it all together for me. Faculty really helped me to understand the clinical lens - that it's more than just doing DA's (diagnostic assessments) and doing one-on-one "formal" counseling. It's, "how do you help someone if you're a case manager? How do you think about their mental health, and the clinical lens, and applying yourself in that sense?”

Hear more from Elizabeth in this YouTube video»

Hear more about Elizabeth's clinical field experience»

Francois Vang, MSW '15

Francois Vang, MSW '15

DSWAP Scholar

If you want to do social work - clinical work - I think that UST and St. Catherine University are the schools to go to because a lot of schools don't really focus on this area. The training and the intensity of it [made it] difficult to get through, but it was a good challenge. It really prepared me for the real world. 

Hear more from Francois in this YouTube video»

Hear about Francois' Hmong Radio Show experience with the DSWAP Scholars»

Trista Pohlman

Trista Pohlman, MSW '15

Weekend Cohort

What I find to be "over-the-top" great in this program is the fact that we look at ourselves and what we bring to practice: the strengths, our areas of growth, and ourselves as a tool - as a social worker. That's been wonderful. Clinical social work practice offers a greater use of self to assist and enhance the journey of your client. The program focuses on great material you can use immediately in practice. Also, by the time you graduate, you have most of the clinical curriculum hours now required for clinical licensure in Minnesota.

Hear more from Trista in this YouTube video»

Ashley Trudell

Ashley Trudell, MSW '14

I chose to come to the program based on word-of-mouth that this was a great program, but the word-of-mouth didn't do it justice! This has been an incredible experience and I wouldn't want to go anywhere else to get my MSW. Not only does this program tap into your strengths, who you are as a person, and how you can contribute back to society, but it's a wonderful experience all-around. The development of the "whole person" was a key aspect of the program and I think I'm a happier person as a result of this education.  My biggest surprise was just how versatile social work is.  

Hear more from Ashley in this YouTube video»

Dukassa Lemu, MSW '15

Dukassa Lemu, MSW '15

This [program] was the right fit for me because these universities have the spirit of inclusion and diversity in that they help people of different origins, language, and culture. That is my core value, so really, that's why I joined.

During [my clinical field placement] I gained valuable knowledge, both from my supervisor and from the students I worked with. For example, working with immigrants & refugees, working with individuals, working with couples, working with people with disabilities. I used the models that I learned, especially from the Social Work Methods class.

Hear more from Dukassa in this YouTube video»

Hear more about Dukassa's clinical field placement»

Naomi Pitlick, MSW '15

Naomi Pitlick, MSW '15

I had several friends who have gone through this program and speak really highly of it, and I know it has a really good reputation. I was going through some of the coursework online, looking at some of the syllabi, and the classes excited me - the content of the classes and what I'd be learning - it just sort of fit with what I wanted to do.

The variety of professors and the history they've had; what they shared about what they've done - I think that has been pretty huge. You get so much exposure to different areas of social work and different fields; and that first-hand knowledge from professors who've "done that." All the professors I've had have been excellent.

Hear more from Naomi in this YouTube video»

Emily Brunner

Emily Brunner, MSW '14

Area of Emphasis in Aging (AEA) Scholar

Small class size was very important to me. The interaction with the professors was profound. They were able to get to know you and really help you zero in on your strengths and the things you could improve on, especially when it comes to the clinical aspect of your practice.

Hear more from Emily in this YouTube video»

Fatai Popoola

Fatai Popoola, MSW '14

My clinical placement was fantastic. I was fortunate enough to be part of a scholarship program called DSWAP, the Diversity Social Work Advancement Program.  There is an organization called Family Partnership that has an agreement with the School of Social Work to train MSW students from immigrant, refugee and minority communities in clinical social work. I worked with clients with mental health issues. It was very clinical and it really prepared me to be a future clinical social worker.

Hear more from Fatai in his 2014 Commencement Welcome»

Kate Jergensen

Kate Jergensen, MSW '14

I liked the versatility of clinical social work and the fact that I wasn't going to be pigeon-holed into a specific career.  I've also always been a big advocate for social justice, and social work is much more strengths-focused and systems-focused than other therapy-related fields.

I'm a big proponent of smaller class sizes and being able to get to know your professors and the other students.  I was surprised that the professors were able to give individual attention even though they have a lot of students and were doing their own research. 

Hear more from Kate in this YouTube video»

Rachel Girard

Rachel Girard, MSW '14

Area of Emphasis in Aging (AEA) Scholar

I had some doubts coming into the social work program, but as soon as I entered, those doubts just vanished. It’s a great place with a very supportive atmosphere. The program staff members always had an open door and were willing to answer any questions that I had.  I really felt like I was part of the community here. The MSW program helped me develop my confidence and helped me self-reflect to be a better clinician.  It's an interesting field to be in because you can do pretty much anything you want within the umbrella of social work.

Hear more from Rachel in this YouTube video»


Zach LeCrone, ‌MSW '14

My field placement really got me ready for doing clinical social work. I was doing therapy and every session was videotaped. I enjoyed seeing myself go through the process because I could see the parts of my personality that might be impacting clients, [such as] having a genuine personality. Seeing it in 3rd person view really gave me the insight to develop my professional identity and personality. For those exploring the profession I’d say, "if you're in it to help others and do good for our world, I think clinical social work is the way to go."


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Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

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