Student Spotlight: Darryl Vincent, MSW
Darryl Vincent is living proof of the power of integration. Working full-time as the then-Vice President of Programs at the U.S. Veterans Initiative while earning his MSW at UNE Online, Darryl applied his education to the workplace the moment he signed off from class.
Now a COO, Darryl credits his UNE Online teachers for the successful changes he’s implemented at his organization — and the improvement of veterans’ lives across the country.
Finding a path to service
Education was always important to the Vincent family, as they believe that the more investment you put in, the more you get in return. Growing up in New York and the Washington, D.C. area, Darryl earned his bachelor’s degree, as both his parents had, and knew a graduate degree came next.
With a social worker for a mom, Darryl also knew how important it was for him to integrate helping people with making a living. “I realized I wanted more than money — I wanted a career,” he said.
Darryl joined the Marine Corps after college and soon found a job with the U.S. Veterans Initiative, where he found that each site’s clinical director had a graduate degree — and Darryl was directly overseeing them without one. That’s when he knew he had to return to a school that fit his lifestyle and burgeoning career. While searching for an accredited social work program at an online school, he found UNE Online.
UNE Online made it possible for Darryl — a single parent with a job requiring travel — to earn his degree from wherever he was. And thanks to his attentive professors who understood these needs, he could continue serving others through social work as his mother had before him.
Making a direct impact
Beyond flexibility, UNE Online offered Darryl the ability to affect real change in his organization. “I can honestly say UNE Online had a direct correlation between smart restructuring and seeing the value in hiring graduate-level leaders.”
He could take his new knowledge of best practices with clients, hiring, and management and make them a reality for his employees — organizational changes that would later translate to better-served clients. What was once siloed and inefficient, Darryl integrated and streamlined, holding up current policies and procedures against established theories and evidence-based practices.
With his growing understanding of social work theories, Darryl altered the organizational culture without offending people’s values — making change with them, not to them, and in turn amplifying his impact. The clinical directors at U.S. Veterans Initiative now have the tools to provide great services to veterans in a more uniformed manner.
Thinking bigger using education-workplace integration practices
Darryl has always complemented his passion for helping people with a desire to enact big change, which is one reason he concentrated in community/macro social work. He prefers to manage those who work one-on-one with clients while still influencing policy and advocating for veterans.
The U.S. Veterans Initiative serves veterans at 11 locations across the country, helping them find jobs, housing, and support. As the Chief Operating Officer—a position he entered just two years after starting at UNE Online — Darryl implements policy and supervises executive directors and programs across the entire organization.
When people come to Darryl asking if he would recommend a UNE Online degree, his answer is “absolutely!” UNE Online exceeds expectations in quality, and the online experience can allow students to integrate what they learn with what they’re doing. Then, they get to process that experience together with classmates and professors, which is how Darryl says he learns best.
Recently asked to present with the Department of Veterans Affairs on how to best serve and treat the homeless at the annual National Coalition for Homeless Veterans Annual Conference, Darryl is advocating for a new modality: Housing First.
“You can work on yourself better in a house than on the street.” Through this approach, Darryl is helping more veterans find permanent, affordable housing—using the knowledge and skills he gained at UNE Online.
If, like Darryl, the ability to integrate your education with your job appeals to you, download our Master’s in Social Work program brochure to learn more: