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Social Work Students at Mississippi College Excel on National Exams

MC senior Sarah Harrell of Brandon

As a young girl growing up in Simpson County, Sarah Harrell always wanted to help people.

It’s not surprising the 20-year-old Mississippian found her calling as a social worker.

After her first social work classes as a freshman, Sarah realized this was the field to pursue at Mississippi College. She’s among the MC students recently exceeding national averages in social work licensure test scores.

MC social work professors teach rigorous courses and work closely with students to explain the solid test results, Harrell says

“Preparation for the licensure exam starts in the first social work class you take and continues through the last class.”

Mississippi College reported an 84.6 percent pass rate for its social work students on the licensure test in 2017, an uptick from the 81.25 percent rate for 2016. Pass rates for 29 MC students over two years top the national average standing at 78 percent. It nearly doubles the 44 percent pass rate at the state level.

Strong test scores didn’t happen by accident at the Baptist-affiliated university. Social Work professors offer a licensure exam seminar for its students lasting an entire semester. The students also take practice exams based on questions provided from previous tests.

The social work faculty remains “ committed to providing a stellar educational experience for our students, preparing them for employment in the profession as well as graduate studies,” says program chair Laurie Lawson.

Harrell plans to start work on her master’s in social work at the University of Alabama soon after receiving her Mississippi College diploma on May 6. A 2014 Prentiss Christian School graduate, she’s graduating from college in three years instead of four.

“My professors have gone out of their way to make sure I had everything I needed to finish early,” says Harrell, a Brandon resident.

 “I think the greatest thing about them is that the social work professors genuinely care about their students,” Harrell added. “The professors care so much about teaching students to be competent social work professionals.”

Graduate School Dean Debbie Norris believes first-rate professors are the key reason the Christian university’s social work program excels.

Sarah Harrell is interested in a career in forensic and correctional social work. She will enter a profession where jobs are plentiful for college graduates.

The U.S. Department of Labor reports social work is among the fastest growing fields in the nation. The social work profession is expected to see jobs climb by 12 percent between 2014 and 2024.

Mississippi College senior Luke Morris, 22, of New Albany will join the profession soon after receiving his social work degree at the May 6 commencement. He’s accepted a position at Methodist Children’s Homes of Mississippi. He will serve as a child care counselor at one of its group homes.

“The classes I took throughout my time in the MC social work program gave me a thorough understanding of the fundamentals of social work,” Morris said. He lauds his professors for giving students the necessary tools to pass the licensure tests and become successful professionals.

Vice President for Academic Affairs Ron Howard salutes an MC program showcasing its outstanding results. “MC is very proud of our social work students and teachers,” he said. High tests scores on a challenging exam “speaks well of the dedication of students and faculty alike.”