Sometimes life comes full-circle –– well, at least for Jacqueline McArthur-Taylor who aids social work students during their tenure at Tuskegee University. McArthur-Taylor, a proud Tuskegee alum works as the director of field instruction in the Department of Social Work. Her 14-year dedication has proven her vested interest in the field and changing the lives of those who enter the department under her scope.
Making the Best Match
McArthur-Taylor is a graduate of Tuskegee’s social work program, and she says she first became interested in this field because of her love for helping people.
“Ever since I can remember, I’ve had that cliched desire to ‘help people,’ and I was drawn to social work based on the fact that social workers impact the lives of people who need help the most,” she said. “And I’ve always felt like, maybe there’s something I can do too.”
As a field instructor, McArthur-Taylor matches junior-level students with internships at local agencies, such as hospitals, nursing homes, juvenile facilities and even food banks.
McArthur-Taylor says the most rewarding part of her job is being a gate-keeper to her profession and seeing her students’ growth.
“I don’t practice social work anymore, but I’m a social work educator, which means I’m training the next generation of social workers,” she noted.
“I want to make sure our students are offered opportunities that deal with real jobs in the real world, and it takes commitment,” she continued. “If students have the commitment, I know they will care about their future careers.”
Being an Advocate
The biggest aspect of being a social work professional is serving as an advocate.
“I constantly remind students they are advocating for those who sometimes may not have a voice, and the students are the ones who, as professionals, can make a positive change happen in someone’s life,” she said.
McArthur-Taylor says she also reminds students to be accountable and gives them tough love as part of her own efforts to hold students accountable for their work.
“I try to get students to understand that every assignment should be treated as if it were their client, and if they fail that assignment, they’ve just failed their client,” she noted.
She says students sometimes don’t realize that they will make life-altering decisions for people; they will decide how much food people may get, how much cash assistance they may receive, and what type of needs they may receive services for.
McArthur-Taylor says to get students more involved with the program and actually feel like they are social workers, the department is launching a new project this fall –– the Barbie and superheroes project.
The purpose of the project is to better educate students about the social work profession and the different career avenues available to them in the field.
“It’s part of an assignment, and it helps students understand the many careers available in social work –– from working in healthcare, prisons, or even animal-assisted therapy,” she said. “The role of a social worker has endless opportunities.”
Visit the Department of Social Work's webpage for more information about the social work program.