MSW Helps Student Build on Decade of Skills and Experience

Janaeyah Reid '24 chose Widener to grow her skills and build on her already extensive career in the social work field.

Janaeyah Reid '24
Janaeyah Reid '24
Janaeyah Reid
Class of 2024
Master of Social Work
  • College of Health & Human Services
Career: Social Worker

Janaeyah Reid ’24 turned to social work during her undergrad and never looked back. Originally planning to pursue a law degree, an advisor steered her toward a different path. 

“I feel like social work is a higher calling for me. This is a tool that I was blessed with,” Janaeyah shared. 

Having worked in many different areas of the field for nearly a decade, Janaeyah now works in adoption and permanency, helping to bring families together after what is often a years-long, deeply emotional process. 

When she was finally ready to pursue her master’s degree, Widener’s nationally-recognized master of social work (MSW) program was a clear next step.

Support in the Field

A first-generation college graduate, and the first person in her family to pursue a master’s degree, Janaeyah was intimidated by the thought of balancing her full-time work with her courses. 

“I had been considering getting my masters for a long time. When the pandemic hit, it was very transformative for me,” Janaeyah said. 

Despite the initial intimidation, Janaeyah found support among her coworkers - many of whom are Widener alums. 

“I can look left and right in my office and see a Widener graduate, so I knew this had to be a great program. With the support of my employer and my colleagues I thought that if they can do it then so can I,” she said. 

Taking a Chance

After taking a leap of faith to begin the program, Janaeyah took another risk that paid off: applying for a fellowship award through the American Association of University Women (AAUW). 

After seeing a poster on campus, Janaeyah applied for what she felt was a long shot opportunity. Months later, after forgetting that she had even applied, she learned that she was chosen to receive a Community Action Grant from the AAUW.

“One of the barriers for me pursuing a masters was that I didn’t want to get into any more debt. [The AAUW] helps African American women get into higher education and finance their degrees,” she explained. 

This financial assistance came with an array of AAUW benefits including webinars and a wide network of other members that Janaeyah can use to network and lean on for guidance, support, and opportunity.

Real-Time Application

A decade into her career Janaeyah notes that she is continually learning and growing her skillset through the MSW program. She cites diverse faculty members as being influential in offering different perspectives that she may not have had. 

“I really think highly of Widener’s program and the faculty. I think what is transformative about Widener’s program is that it teaches you not just the theories and methods, but also how to apply them,” Janaeyah said. “How can I be better? How can I be aware of my blind spots? How can I think about this differently?”

She credits Marina Barnett as a mentor in this way of thinking. 

“She is a wealth of knowledge. She’s able to take that knowledge and apply it to situations in ways I would never have thought of,” Janaeyah said.

To others looking to pursue a career in social work, Janaeyah emphasizes the importance of knowing your worth and using your voice. 

“If you’re going to advocate for your clients it starts with you,” she said. “That means speaking up when you see something that’s not right and asking for help when you need it.”

Career: Social Worker

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