Emily Hammer’s path to social work began in UB’s nursing program. Unsure of her definitive life plan, she did know she wanted to help people. Her mother, a nurse, suggested she try nursing, but for Hammer, it did not work out. She initially “wanted to do psychiatric mental health nursing, she said. “But as I got farther into the program, I couldn’t handle blood or bodily-type of stuff.” She switched to a double major in Psychology and Health and Human Services with a concentration in community mental health. She also added a double minor in counseling and sociology.
Hammer is now finishing her first year in the traditional MSW program. “I have become so interested in solution-focused practice,” she said. “[Clinical Professor] Denise Krause has been so good; she puts so much effort into her feedback—it’s so beneficial.”
Hammer’s field placement is at Grover Cleveland High School’s International Prep. “It’s a grade 5 through 12 public school. It has been the best experience,” she said. “We do one-on-one and group counseling with student who are identified by a teacher as needing mentorship.” Hammer says she often works on conflict mediation or “lunch bunch” groups for students who need extra help. She has seen benefits both for herself and the students. “To be able to see a lot of growth from the students is the coolest thing,” she said.
Hammer’s passion for helping others is clear. In a previous internship, at a California residential treatment center for teenagers, she served as a mentor for students with behavioral issues. “We walked through the day with them,” she said. “We helped with behavioral issues and mentored them through the struggles—moving through everything that they are trying to recover from.”
In the summers of 2015 and 2016, Hammer worked with the indigenous populations in Costa Rica, teaching English and helping with community building, using resources that her group brought to help the community with what they needed.
“When I graduate, I would love to do school social work, though I see myself taking a clinical route first,” summed up Hammer. “I’d like to get the clinical experience and supervision to get my C [clinical license], then I would be open to doing school social work. I value the macro side of things, but I am much more interested in helping individuals. As much as we can make change on a large scale, individual change is so valuable and impactful. I want to be involved in that side of social work.”