Social
Location
Brandt Hall 330

What area do you teach?

I teach social work courses focusing on case management, interviewing skills, research, and social justice.

Education/Degree(s)

I have a bachelor's degree in speech communication and a second bachelor's degree in social work. I have a master's degree in social work and a second master's in health education. I am in the process of completing my Ph.D. in health education.

Your Philosophy of Teaching

My teaching philosophy revolves around bringing real-life social work experience to the classroom and encouraging students to reflect on how past and current life experiences have contributed to their skills of effectively helping others by addressing various social injustices. As my students master the social work curriculum and get to know themselves as helping professionals, I believe in engaging my students in assignments and activities that show them they are not just social work students. They are future social work professionals who will continue to advance the field of social work because of the wonderful and dedicated people that they are.

Why did you decide to teach?

During the second year in my Bachelor of Social Work program, while completing my field placement, I developed an interest in teaching social work. I wanted part of the foundation of my teaching philosophy to focus on combining academics with real-world social work experience.

Teaching is something that came naturally to me, starting on my first day as a new graduate teaching assistant. Most of all, I enjoy watching my students evolve throughout the semester while being in an environment where we all learn from each other.

I realized very quickly that teaching social work and other social science subjects is my calling. Although teaching is my job, I never feel as if I am working because I enjoy being an educator and everything that is associated with being a professor.

Credentials/Career Path

I was a social worker for 14 years. I gained experience working with various aspects of Child Protective Services, older adults and the disabled in nursing homes and assisted living and hospice. I still hold my licensure as a Licensed Master’s Social Worker (LMSW). My plan is to continue bringing real-world experience to the classroom for the rest of my career.

Professional Highlight

My professional highlight was accepting a tenure-track assistant professor position at SEMO. The social work program and the Criminal Justice, Social Work, and Sociology department encompass everything I have envisioned for my teaching career for the past 18 years.

Awards/Honors/Recognitions

I was chosen to be one of the speakers at a conference called “Suicide Among African American Children: Awareness, Communication, Overcoming Stigma, and Prevention”. This was my first time presenting at a professional conference. I received above-average ratings for my presentation and positive feedback from the keynote speaker.

Organizations with Which You Are Involved

Currently, I am not involved in any organizations. However, I plan to become a member of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) in the near future.

Most Recent/Notable Published Works

While I have not published any work yet, I look forward to my first experience with publishing that will take place next year. I will have the opportunity to turn sections of my dissertation into articles published in various academic, peer-reviewed journals.

Best Advice for Students

Enjoy your classes and the learning process; be an active participant. Always try to incorporate something that interests you into your courses.

As my students master the social work curriculum and get to know themselves as helping professionals, I believe in engaging my students in assignments and activities that show them they are not just social work students.

Arika Wiggins, Assistant Professor