Through maintaining a core set of values, and then being open to opportunity which harmonize with those values, Steven Halady, MSW '15, has built upon his experiences.
Before he entered the MSW program, Halady was no stranger to academia. He’d earned bachelor’s degrees in biology and philosophy from John Carroll University, and then attended UB to earn a PhD in philosophy. For the past several years, Halady has taught philosophy courses at various colleges and universities in the Buffalo area.
It was this last experience which he believes brought him from academia to the practitioner-rooted field of social work. “I’ve taught a lot of ethics and justice classes over the years,” he said. “So, when I decided that I wasn’t going to try to find a permanent academic position, social work was an easy step, given the values and the ethics at the foundation of the profession.”
Halady’s teaching background granted him a unique MSW student perspective. As an educator, he values the roles of mentor and instructor; he has found ways to share these passions with the UB School of Social Work community, through an outlet he hadn’t anticipated.
Halady, who’d begun studying martial arts with a narrow focus to learn self-defense after a loved one was assaulted, ended up leading martial arts workshops that were open to all UBSSW students, faculty and staff. Halady has become invested in the numerous possibilities that exist in the overlaps between martial arts and social work.
“A lot of the data shows that when you train martial arts from a perspective that includes a lot of the ethics and the history and the philosophy, as well as the social and spiritual aspects—not just ‘let’s kick and punch things’—it actually contributes to reducing aggression, reducing violence and building self-efficacy,” attested Halady. “So a lot of the things that social workers look to do—here’s this well-established structure for doing that.”
He also conveyed to participants in his UBSSW workshops the benefits of harnessing the discipline strategies and mindfulness practices of martial arts as a means of self-care.
“I did an independent study looking at martial arts as a form of self-care, and also the ways that the principles, techniques and training can be used in conjunction with or as a complement to ‘traditional’ social work practice.”
As for life after graduation, Halady is confident in his foundational values and strengths—which the MSW program has bolstered in him.
“One of the great things about social work, I think, is that whatever direction you go—with whatever skills you have—it can translate into a lot of different opportunities,” he stated. “The program has really helped prepare me to adapt, be effective and be happy in the wide range of possibilities that may present themselves.”