Alexandra Liloia-Bishop, a recent graduate of the UB part-time online MSW program, is passionate about the child welfare system. With plans to work in advocacy, policy and research surrounding child welfare, UB’s trauma-informed, human rights focused MSW program was perfect for her.
Liloia-Bishop started out her education with a bachelor’s degree from Philadelphia Biblical University. “I majored in children’s ministries at first, and then I did worked with some social work students,” she said. “I got interested in social work. I was already pretty far along in my degree, so I decided I would graduate then go back for an MSW. I ended up minoring in social work with my degree in Bible and Children’s Ministries.”
Taking online classes was an easy leap for Liloia-Bishop. “I had taken a few online classes and I liked the flexibility, and the ability to tailor the coursework to your interests,” she said. “I learn well when I can take it at my own pace, read, and do my own research. The beauty of the online program is that if you happen to be home and have energy at midnight or are done with work for the day, why not start your assignment? You can really make it work with your schedule.”
For potential online students, Liloia-Bishop does have some advice: “It’s not going to be less work. Be prepared to carve out the same amount of time that you would spend in class, at the library and doing homework” she warned. “It is flexible, but for me it was necessary to make a schedule for myself, especially working full time. One semester I had two classes and field placement it was crazy trying to juggle everything. I printed out a calendar and had every assignment color-coded. That’s not usually like me. Know what you’re getting into.”
Even though the work is mostly done via computer, a community aspect still exists within UB’s online MSW program. “I’ve learned from the professors and also get a lot from the students I’ve been in class with, through projects and discussion boards,” she attested. “If you’re worried about not having that networking opportunity—it still exists, especially the way UB has set up the online program.”
Liloia-Bishop found flexibility both in the online program, and also in the structure of the overall MSW program. “That’s what’s been wonderful about UB’s program. Once your foundational courses are out of the way (which teach you all of those awesome trauma-informed and human rights things) you can go whatever direction you want to go,” she said.
Liloia-Bishop has already begun integrating aspects of her School of Social Work education into her workplace, Hillside Children’s Center’s foster care program. “Together with one of my coworkers, who is also a UB student, we put together a trauma-informed training for our foster parents,” she said. “It’s very practical and based on our experiences in foster care. We’re also developing a solution-focused training to teach our foster parents to use with our kids.”