Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Amy Storch, BSW, MSW, Ph.D., LCSW – Social Work Program
Broadening perspectives. Fostering community. These missions have guided Dr. Amy Storch for nearly a decade as she’s taught foundational and practical courses, created landmark programs, and has advised hundreds of future social workers throughout their academic journeys and into their careers. She approaches her work from the rich vantage point of a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, global traveler, nationally Certified American Sign Language Interpreter and lifelong helper.
The next step in a helpful path
Assisting others has always been a way of life for Amy. She grew up as a child of two Deaf parents. As the only one in the family who could hear, “they depended on me for a lot of things,” she said. Even today, she continues to take on projects like video relay interpretation.
Social work happened “just by happenstance,” Amy said. “I knew I wanted to go to college but didn’t know what I wanted to do.” Her dissertation analyzed the effectiveness of therapy for Deaf clients, and her first job after college was working in acute and crisis care. At that point, social work and the way it merges research and care was a natural fit: “I thought, ‘What’s the next thing to get into?’ Social work seemed like the most appropriate thing to do.”
Always expanding students’ perspectives
Amy started her career with UNE in 2010, teaching both foundation and advanced courses. Since then, she has also been instrumental in shaping the curriculum. She was one of the creators of ‘Social Determinants of Health,’ a course that has become increasingly relevant year after year. “We see a lot of social inequalities and injustices, which things in daily life that many don’t give a lot of thought,” she said.
As a social worker, “the people you work with are like the saying in the Forrest Gump movie: ‘like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get.’ Examining social determinants brings a different connotation to how you see things in your life and the lives of others,” Amy said.
This desire to expand students’ perspectives also led Amy to co-develop International Social Work in the Caribbean, a one-week service learning program in Jamaica. By raising money and supplies, assisting at the children’s community center and deaf school, and more, students of the international social work course have an onsite opportunity to practice what they’ve learned.
“Inequalities in the U.S. are different than in Jamaica,” Amy said. “It’s a third-world country. People go without food. If something breaks, it’s far more challenging to line up the resources to fix and replace it.”
From service learning in the Caribbean to volunteering at a chimpanzee sanctuary in Africa, Amy’s passion for travel feeds her work. A journey across Asia – backpacking through Vietnam, China, Cambodia, and Thailand – enhanced her appreciation for community.
“There’s a real sense of doing for one another here. They’ve got it right,” she said. “The experience was incredibly enriching. It added to my desire to be a better social worker and a better person.”
Engaging a global community
Just as Amy brings a world of experience to her work, UNE brings the world to her. “You get to meet people from all walks of life with amazing experiences and stories to share that you might not get from a traditional classroom.”
And she’s committed to making students’ experiences as valuable as possible, drawing upon her own time as a UNE learner.
“So many people say, ‘oh, you’re a distance learner, that’s so easy,’ but it takes a lot of time and discipline,” Amy said. “You have to be on top of things. When I’m in the classroom, I’m active on the discussion board. I’m connecting via phone, Skype, whatever we need to do to make the experience positive.”
She knows firsthand that distance learning can be an isolating experience – if you let it be. “You need to make an effort to create a chat group, talk on the phone, or find someone who’s in the same town.”
In her work, she focuses on creating a sense of community. “I’m very passionate about teaching and fostering students’ growth,” she said. “I always find ways to let students know that I’m here for them and that their success is important to me.”
Throughout her time at UNE, Amy has served as academic advisor to more than 125 students. “I’ve developed some amazing relationships with students, some of whom I keep in touch with to this day. It’s humbling to be their go-to person, their confidante,” she said.
What has she enjoyed most during her UNE experience? Going to commencement and being a part of her students’ culminating day. “I know what it’s like to walk, to be able to see their family members celebrate in this way,” she said. “I like helping bring this happiness to students.”
More Social Work program information: http://go.une.edu/social-work
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.
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