UA Lakewood graduating students live, learn, serve in community


The University of Akron will graduate its first UA Lakewood cohort of students in the Joint Master of Social Work (MSW) Program between UA and Cleveland State University on Sunday, May 11.

Since its inception in 1995, the four-semester program, which requires each student to complete at least 900 hours of internship service in Northeast Ohio, has hosted distance learning classes between UA and CSU. This year’s graduating cohort was the first to take classes together in a traditional classroom at the UA Lakewood campus.

“The University of Akron in Lakewood is the perfect location for the working professional,” says Suzanne Metelko, director of UA Lakewood. “It is a student-centered complex with high-tech amenities, dedicated to serving the working professional.”

UA Lakewood Coordinator Becky Thomas adds that the collaboration at Lakewood brought “an enriching, diverse group together, allowing students to gain experiences from their classmates that they may never have experienced before.”

Community within community

The students worked in hospitals and hospices, child welfare, victim services, courts, and more. In serving the community, the students became their own community, says UA student Edra Curry, a U.S. Army veteran who interned at the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs in Cleveland.

“This environment [Lakewood] allowed for our cohort to become more than peers; we became a community,” she says. “We watched each other learn and grow. We celebrated each other’s triumphs and mourned the losses.”

CSU student Shametria Almond, who completed her internship at the MetroHealth Hospital Broadway Health Center in Cleveland, echoes Curry’s sentiment: “We became a little family, learning more about one another’s lives and backgrounds in the field and work experience.”

UA student Katy Keller, who provided social services to the elderly for the Lakewood Division of Aging and assisted people with Alzheimer’s and dementia for the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging in Cleveland, credits this cross-professional experience for making her “the well-rounded social worker” she is today.

“I loved having class with both UA and CSU students because of the various life and professional experiences that my colleagues have. Without having everyone in the room together, I feel that my educational experience would have lacked the stories that made me the well-rounded professional social worker I am today.”

Tim McCarragher, director of UA’s School of Social Work, notes that the second Lakewood cohort will graduate in May 2015, and he already has received applications for the third cohort.

“The entire Lakewood community, not just UA Lakewood, went out of their way to welcome our students,” McCarragher says. “The UA Lakewood campus is a perfect location for Akron students to attend classes and complete internships in Cuyahoga County.”

 Story by Nicholas Nussen

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