our students and alumni

Thomas Power, MSW '17

Thomas Power
“I wanted to go back to school but I also had a family at home. At the time I started taking non-matriculating courses I had a 1.5 year old. It was something that could work for me if I did it online. ”

Thomas Power, MSW ‘17, describes the path he has taken to this point in his life as a “long, strange trip.” After graduating from high school in 1995, Power attended Canisius as a chemistry major before transferring to St. Bonaventure’s for business. “I graduated from there, and after a long time of trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life I finally figured out that social work was the place for me.”

What made Power realize that social work was what he wanted? Six years into his work with Allegany County, clinical professors “Denise Krause and Sue Green came down and did a training, solution-focused trauma-informed-care and it was really at that point that it was like ‘oh this is totally what I want to do!’”

Living in Olean, NY, however, would make attending physical classes on campus a bit difficult. Power explains, “I wanted to go back to school but I also had a family at home. At the time I started taking non-matriculating courses I had a 1.5 year old. It was something that could work for me if I did it online. I really researched it and figured I can do this if I could do the online program. There are many situations where I can’t anticipate something coming up [at work]. When something terrible happens on your caseload, you can’t just say, 'well, I’ve got class tonight, I have to go to that.'  There are certain periods where you have to be there for online classes, but a lot of it is time where you can work around your schedule and make it work for you, so that was one advantage for the online program.”

Power offers the following advice for current and upcoming online students: “make sure that you stay up on your work. It’s not like you can ignore things from time to time. Every week you’ve got things due and you’ve got things to work on. Stay on top of your work and plan it out really well. Usually online students are working, so you can’t just jam a day and a half into writing a paper, you have to be more thoughtful and mindful about what you’re doing with it. I think you have to be open to all sorts of different ways to get your knowledge. It’s not just as simple as watching this video or reading this book, there’s a wide variety of ways to learn.”

When reflecting on his years in the program, Power explains, “I can’t say enough good things about my experience with the School of Social Work. The professors have been wonderful; the learning environment has been great. I’m going to miss interacting with everyone and pushing myself in the social work field and I worry about how I’m going to fill that void going forward. It’s left me wanting more instead of just saying, “I’m done with it, good, I can move on.”

As for the future, Power says, “This has definitely opened up possibilities for me to do a wide variety of things. I’m looking at getting my licensure and then getting my clinical [licensure], then seeing what I can do with that when it’s all said and done while staying in my field. Now I have different opportunities there where I can get into clinical social work, where I didn’t have that before. It’s added to my repertoire and it’s given me opportunities to do different things.”