Faculty Spotlight: Christine Rogerson, LCSW – Social Work Program
She graduated with a Bachelor of Psychology from the University of Maine and went on to earn her Master of Social Work right here at the University of New England.
Prior to teaching at UNE, Christine spent several years working in multiple clinical social work capacities, including work within the crisis system, inpatient hospitalization with children and adults, foster care, school social work and social work within the medical setting.
Can you tell me a little bit about your background and what drew you to teaching at UNE Online?
I’m actually an MSW grad from the University of New England! I really enjoyed the program as a student, especially its social inclusion focus. When I was a student, social justice and ethics were integral parts of the curriculum; these themes are still encompassed in our School of Social Work values and mission today.
My heart, in a lot of ways, has always been drawn towards working with people in all capacities. I have a passion for knowledge, so being able to share in that process with others is very fulfilling. Through my work as a Clinical Social Worker, I found myself continuously looking for opportunities to engage in educational opportunities. Many of these opportunities involved connecting with colleagues through continuing education opportunities, volunteering to be a presenter at various conferences, facilitating small groups, providing field instruction for Social Work students, and eventually working for UNE.
When I accepted the opportunity to become a field instructor at UNE, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to give back, and at the same time, to share in my students’ learning experiences. There is nothing more exciting than seeing the growth a student has during their practicum experience.
What do you teach right now?
I am currently a Field Practicum Coordinator for the online MSW program. The majority of my time is dedicated to helping students secure and prepare to enter their field practicum sites in order to complete their field education requirement. Primarily I work with foundation year students. This is the first opportunity that many of them are having, ever, to enter into a field practicum site. Some students have related experience, but this is the first experience dedicated solely to social work that they have had in the field. It is really exciting!
I do also at times have the opportunity to facilitate the Integrated Field Practicum Seminars that our students are required to take in conjunction with their field practicum hours. This course sequence is one of my favorites. It is incredible, being able to see students connect the conceptual knowledge they learned in previous courses to their practical experiences.
In your teaching, how do you foster a sense of community among your online students?
I think that oftentimes, for people who haven’t been immersed in an online program before, it can be a little daunting. I’ve found that my students connect better the more frequently they communicate. One-on-one, I talk to people using video chat so that we can make that connection that simulates sitting in a room together.
In the classes, we have our students submit weekly video chat discussion posts that are viewable by the entire class. Even though everyone is watching at different times, you do feel as if you’re in the room with the person. When students submit their discussion post responses, it’s as if the conversation is ongoing. Facilitating those conversations is another way I help to deepen relationships and foster a sense of community among my students.
How do you feel that you prepare your students for life after graduation?
Everyone comes into the field of social work for their own set of reasons. Some people have an assumption of what social workers do, and what that might look like. Part of my job in the foundation year is to help students open their minds and their eyes to the hundreds of opportunities available to social workers.
Through the coursework and field experiences, our students have the opportunity to explore all of the options that social workers have available to them. This is important because someday they might want to pursue a different avenue or work with a population other than the one they originally intended. With the foundational knowledge they have gained through the program, they will have the freedom to change the focus of their social work career at any time.
One element that I consider to be the backbone of our field courses is the emphasis on the importance of self-care. Taking care of yourself is critical. Social work is a field where we often drain our own resources while advocating for our clients. So part of what we talk about from the beginning with students is how to take care of themselves, and how to continue to do it throughout their careers. We work intentionally and deliberately to integrate self-care into our classrooms so that it becomes a built-in routine early on. We are actively working toward preventing burnout.
What do you feel sets the UNE Online Master of Social Work program apart from other social work programs?
There are so many things! I would say the biggest component that makes our program different is our focus on social inclusion. We have students that are very much integrated within their clinical practice, and students that are solely focused on community practice. But in either setting, we are encouraging those conversations about inclusion, and how to evoke change.
I also feel that UNE does a great job giving students options about what type of social work they want to do, and acknowledging the diversity within our field. We are not just developing clinical practitioners here.
How do you find the program works for career changers, those who may not have a social work background?
I find often that many foundation year students begin their careers in another field and decide later to become social workers. I thoroughly enjoy the diversity that my foundational students bring into the classroom. Their life experiences, their work experiences, the way that they see the world, the way that they see communities, and their views on the structures in which people live – it’s all a little bit different. Our beliefs and ethics as social workers allow everything to meld together within the program. I believe that our foundation year academic coursework does a great job preparing people for what to expect as a social worker. And we really use that time in our field prep and in our field courses to be able to have conversations about expectations.
What do you like best about working with UNE Online students?
I could go on for days about this! Through facilitating and assisting students every day, I feel like I am constantly learning alongside my students. Our students have had unique life experiences, and have specific elements that they’re accustomed to in their own communities. Because our students can be located anywhere, each one comes to a class with slightly different experiences. Being able to hear those stories makes the online student’s learning more powerful.
When I work with my classes I have the potential to be talking with students not only across our country but across the world. I could never experience everything that is happening to each of these individuals across the globe, but I get to hear about it all, and I get to walk through it with my students.
I have students who are doing placements in countries that have different ways of operating, different rules, different governments, and different ways of managing situations. It’s a continual learning of how to be sensitive to individuals in the culture in which you’re operating. The diverse geography and differences in perspective open up many opportunities, not just for myself as an instructor, but for the students in our online community. Sharing real life experiences changes the environment in which they’re learning, which opens up conversations as well as new learning opportunities that students might not always get when interacting within one specific setting.
I get to see the world through my students’ eyes, learn about different cultures, and help them cope with situations in real time. I feel like I’m able to make a real difference.
If you are interested in pursuing your Master’s in Social Work, or even if you’re simply interested in discussing the program, please reach out to an Enrollment Counselor at (207) 221-4143 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested in applying to UNE Online? The sooner you apply, the sooner you hear back. Fill out an online application today at go.une.edu/apply – we look forward to hearing from you!