April 30, 2021
Social Work major Tymira Stenson was interning at a community mental health agency and on track for her 2021 graduation when the COVID shutdown kicked in and her internship ended.
“I was devasted. I thought I wouldn’t graduate,” she recalled.
Creative thinking on campus made for a win-win situation: Stenson was able to fulfill her internship requirement with a field placement in the College’s Division of Student Affairs.
“Tymira is the first student the social work program has placed on campus,” said Stacey G. O'Brien, LISW-S, Assistant Professor, Director of Field Education. “I am grateful for the opportunity. COVID has made field placements particularly challenging this year.”
The Student Affairs staff was grateful, too. “It has been a godsend having Tymira," said Deanne W. Hurley, Vice President for Student Affairs.
Stenson and Hurley earned certification in COVID contact tracing through a course at Johns Hopkins University and Stenson helped to re-organize Student Affairs’ systems for contact tracing to help stem the spread of the virus. She also assisted with Student Affairs’ efforts to test a random sample of students for COVID every week.
“Being a student myself, I was able to be relatable and to inform students on issues related to the pandemic, including vaccination. I tried to engage with students, build rapport, and get them comfortable with me,” Stenson said. “I enjoyed working with the students.”
Stenson researched ways to streamline processes for tracing and testing, and her systems saved the staff many hours of work, Hurley said. “She was also supportive to our students and had a very nice presence when she checked in on those in isolation and quarantine to see how they were doing and if they needed anything. Students were appreciative of the check-ins. I appreciated Tymira’s calm demeanor, her resourcefulness, and her willingness to share ideas. It was definitely a benefit having a social worker as part of the team.”
The added benefit for Stenson, whose social work program is fully online, was that the internship gave her a reason to come to campus, enjoy its beauty, and interact with students and staff. When she is not in class or interning, Stenson is a case worker at Y Haven, a temporary housing and addiction treatment center.
“I chose social work because of my passion to help others and meet the need for diversity in this field. Ursuline College presented as an affordable opportunity to further my education and elevate my natural skills as a helping professional," Stenson said.
What's next for this soon-to-be Ursuline alumna? "As I move forward after graduation, I hope to continue working with women and men with co-occurring disorders such as substance use and mental health disorders.”