Before serving in the military, he’d worked as an EMT, so Sage considered the medical field for undergraduate studies. After some exploration in majors (history, nursing) he ended up in social work.
“Like many people, I didn’t understand social work,” he said. “I thought it was ‘touchy-feely’ or you’re a baby snatcher. When I saw what they actually did, I thought I could get behind it.”
His field work, at San Bernardino County Social Services, cinched it. “I fell in love; I loved the clients, the role of protecting children,” he said.
Sage worked in child protective services in Portland, Oregon, while pursuing his MSW. He then became the liaison between child services and the local police department.
His wife’s academic career took the Sages west. “Rural North Dakota has a lot of one-person child welfare offices, without resources,” he said. “As the statewide child welfare specialist, I traveled to investigate high-risk, high-conflict cases.”
The focus of his current doctoral studies is quality higher education: emphasizing how to teach and teach well. “Educators are the frontline people, ensuring that graduates are prepared to go do their jobs. I like to think I can have a role in that,” he said.