“I really want [my students] to be insightful, self-reflective, and mindful of the human condition.”
Initially piqued by the New Community College Concept Paper, Prof. Marcia Edwards, Clinical Professor and Program Coordinator of Human Services, was recruited to Guttman faculty for Fall 2013 to “develop the fieldwork component of the Human Services major.” Bringing her 30 years of social work practice and teaching to bear, Prof. Edwards has worked to align the required internship with the expectations of social work programs while teaching every Human Services course in the Catalog, along with Ethnographies of Work and several special courses; leading a Global Guttman group to Jamaica; and becoming Program Coordinator.
With her interests as extensive as her experience, Prof. Edwards’ scholarship has concentrated on a variety of critical subjects and groups, including her specialization in addiction, HIV/AIDS, and gerontology. Having worked with traumatized populations over the course of her career, Prof. Edwards has in the last nine years begun focusing on vicarious trauma. For instance, “an individual [who survived trauma] as a child never received any intervention. They carry that with them… Hearing that person’s narratives and working with those individuals, the worker, they experience the trauma, too. Sometimes, [the vicarious trauma] goes unchecked because people don’t even realize that they are being impacted by it.” Prof. Edwards’ research concerns vicarious trauma as it relates to faculty of color in academic settings. At the same time, she also studies student retention and graduation rates.
A self-proclaimed “social worker by trade,” Prof. Edwards shares with new majors a “snippet” of what they can anticipate in the field as part of her Introduction to Human Services course. She later works with students to apply the skills learned throughout the Program to their internships during the culminating Integrative Seminar course. In addition to providing immersive experiences, Prof. Edwards relies on active learning strategies in the classroom: students view interactive video modules, enact and evaluate scenarios, role-play a variety of stakeholders, research policies and their implications on social work services, and more.
To guide students, Prof. Edwards states, “make sure that you are truly, truly passionate about where you see yourself in your trajectory, career, your life path – really delve into it. If you find yourself going ‘yes!’ then you know it’s a good fit. I want the [students] to realize that the choices they make have consequences, to really think it through.” In addition, Prof. Edwards instills the “concept of community and giving back“ under the adage of “each one, teach one,” explaining “that you cannot be involved in just yourself – that there’s a universal connection that we all have.” Her charge to students is to “pay it forward.”