For Marna Metcalf, MBA/MSW '16, she sees organizations as her clients. With a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Nazareth College and a previous master’s in counseling from Marymount University, Metcalf sought to make her perspective several steps wider and pursue a degree in social work. “What brought me to social work was really seeing that this was a degree that could be used for many different areas, so I wasn’t pigeon-holed into any one thing,” Metcalf shares.
For many social work students, this progression is a familiar one; the broad perspective of social work is unique to the profession and, therefore, attracts many systems-level thinkers and practitioners. Where Metcalf’s story veers away from that of the typical social work student, however, is in her passion for the business process. While working at Hospice of CNY, Metcalf caught a glimpse of the inner machinery of a human services organization, and she was hooked. “We did interdisciplinary teams, and I liked that kind of work,” she says. “I also like that my hospice was very transparent with its staff members on how hospice is financed and run, and why they would make certain decisions. I was really interested in that part of things.” And so, when Metcalf discovered that UB not only had an MSW/MBA program, but also that the MBA program offered a concentration in health care management, her next professional step became clear. “It made sense for me, because I was so interested in how the finances work, and how organizations manage not only their money, but also focus on capacity and resource management as well.”
While pairing of a social work degree with a business degree might not make a lot of sense to some, for Metcalf, it’s an intuitive combination. “There’s a lot of crossover as far as -- those skills that you learn when you’re working with a client, you would use those skills when in HR. Those kind of same tenets of goal settings for employees apply to goal setting for clients. And also just how you approach organizational and culture shifts is the same way you approach shifts working one-on-one with people, and how they make change in their own lives.”
Metcalf grabs hold of learning opportunities wherever they present themselves – whether in the classroom or beyond it. She is an active member of the UBSSW GSA and of the DREAM program, which stands for Developing Relationships through Empowerment, Advocacy and Motivation. As Metcalf shares: “The focus [of DREAM] is for social work students to step out of the role of social worker and build relationships with community members. The people we volunteer with, the residents of Mary Agnes Manor and the families living at Vive La Casa, are taking the lead to decide how DREAM volunteers can be most useful to them.” The ultimate goal is for students to share in a sense of community with these individuals by building relationships with them. “I was excited to come to UB knowing DREAM would be an option,” Metcalf states. “It’s a great place to make connections with other students and the Buffalo community. I also think getting experiences outside the classroom is just as important as the experiences in the classroom.”