Major Spotlight: Social Work

Professor Annette Heck, DSW, LCSW, graduated with her Bachelor of Science from Southern's School of Social Work back in 2001. Since then, Professor Heck went on to get her master's at Andrews University and worked as an individual and family therapist and counselor. In 2010, she moved back to Collegedale... this time as a professor. Dr. Heck teaches Intro to Social Work and Interviewing Skill this upcoming Fall 2017 semester.  AnnetteHeckasdfasdfasdfasdfasdfasdfasdf
    • What made you choose the social work field? Is it your calling?
      To sound cliché, I always knew I wanted to "help others" in my chosen profession. I thought I would do so as a pediatrician, but during my junior year of college (here at Southern actually) God rocked my world, and through providential conversations, I learned more about social work. I had always been fascinated with psychology and what makes humans tick, but I didn't know I could do counseling work with my master's in Social Work. Up until that point, I knew very little about social work and only thought it involved CPS work or government jobs. When I realized it encompassed so much more, I was sold! I changed majors and never looked back. Social work is truly my calling, and while I may have missed God's voice the first few years I was a student, I was glad I listened and made the change even if it was as late as my junior year. Through my work as a social worker, I have seen the image of God in the clients who were having the worst day of their lives. I have experienced God's guidance during difficult counseling sessions or when navigating a difficult family conversation. I had felt God's comfort when the cases broke my heart and drove me to my knees in prayer.  I have seen how this profession so beautifully aligns with Jesus' example in how He treated others, especially those marginalized and shunned by society. Each day it is my honor to be part of a profession that exemplifies 'pure and undefiled religion' by caring for orphans and widows in their distress (James 1:27).
    • In your years of experience, what can an ordinary person do to help someone with mental illness?
      In my experience, something we can all do (regardless of professional background or training) is to increase our understanding and debunk painful myths that may surround mental illness. Seek to understand the experience of another. Mental illness has received unnecessary stigma that further ostracizes the individuals who are already struggling. As a society, we seem more comfortable in caring for physical ailments that are seen than the mental/emotional issues that are unseen. Yet, those that are unseen can be more prevalent and painful. If you want to help a loved one struggling with mental illness, I would say to start with understanding their story and experience. If they broke their leg, you wouldn't suggest they "walk it off," and "just getting over" depression is just as trite—and unrealistic—of a suggestion. Listen to them. Pray for them. Encourage them to get professional help. There is no shame in caring for our mental health, and that is a message that we must share.
    • Name one distinctive thing about Southern's School of Social Work that you love.
      I love our social work family. I realize that is cheating a bit since there a lot of individuals that comprise our family, but it's the truth :).  We have kind and knowledgeable staff/faculty here in the School of Social Work (SOSW). They genuinely care for students and each other. Where else will the staff/faculty make muffins for their students at mid-term time or make desserts for convocations!?! I may add that here in the SOSW we enjoy the fellowship that comes from sharing meals together.  Our students are amazing and have their unique journeys that have led them to this profession. Their passion to change their world is inspiring, and we are blessed by our social work majors that grace our classrooms.
    • Can you give a reason why an incoming freshman should be a social work major? If you are drawn to the helping professions and want to make a difference in the lives of another, consider social work! Through social work, you can provide direct practice to clients doing case management, clinical counseling, training, education, preventative care, and other roles. You may be drawn to doing group work and you can certainly do that through social work. You can also do macro level work as you seek to change the "bigger picture" by doing community work, policy change, advocacy, research, public speaking, and other roles that we fill to help impact change at a larger level. We work with humans through the entire lifespan from birth to death, in most every context where people may be found and through every issue and societal challenge that currently exists. If any of that interests an incoming freshman, then please swing by Daniels Hall, and let's chat!

To learn more about the School of Social Work, contact Professor Heck at or schedule an academic appointment through the Campus Visit office.

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