Majors and Minors Home
About the Major
The curriculum combines liberal arts with professional social work foundation content to prepare graduates to practice. Social workers help prevent crises and counsel individuals, families and communities to cope more effectively with the stresses of everyday life.
Jobs in Social Work
- Child welfare investigator
- Mental health professional
- Elder care professional
- Medical social worker
- Substance and addictions counselor
Reading Assignment Inspires a Commitment to Social Work
A book assigned in a University of South Alabama English class nudged Gabriel Sweatt to change his planned career to social work. The book was “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson. It focuses on injustices in the U.S. judicial system.
“Reading ‘Just Mercy’ really brought out my empathy,” Sweatt said. “It really struck me how much brokenness there is in the world and how much support people need. I decided that I just had to do something to help the most vulnerable people. And I saw social work as the best opportunity to do that.”
Social work encompasses everything from governmental reform efforts to individual counseling. Sweatt described it as “empowering people and communities to grow and expand their own power and to make life better.”
He learned to apply principles from anthropology, psychology, sociology and even physics. “It’s very difficult coursework because people want simple solutions.” Unfortunately, simple solutions seldom work.
“I decided that I just had to do something to help the most vulnerable people. And I saw social work as the best opportunity to do that.”
“Sometimes people don’t want to change their own problems. They want a change, but they don’t want a difficult solution. You have to convince them that it’s worth their while. It starts with breaking down their resistance and identifying what’s going to make them most want the change.”
Sweatt hoped to be a community mobilizer or public interest lawyer. “Whatever I end up doing, it’s going to be something where I can help people overcome problems through systems. When it comes to solving complex problems, it takes a lot of patience.”
On the bright side, if you succeed, you can actually see tangible evidence of progress. Sweatt cited free internet access, food banks, community gardens, parks and other free public spaces as amenities he’d like to see more of.
“Basically, I’m interested in things that enrich life and make life more secure for people in the most need.”
Did You Know?
- Our Bachelor of Social Work program prepares the graduate for licensure by integrating test preparation into the curriculum.
- The department has agreements with nearly 100 local agencies that host South students for their field practicum internship placements during the senior year of studies. Many of our graduates are hired by those agencies.
- The department has an alumni board that maintains active support and mentoring programs for social work students.
Laurie French Haas
Field Instruction Coordinator
Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work Department