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Social work articulation agreement established

VHCC President Dr. Gene C. Couch Jr. and ETSU President Dr. Brian Noland sign the articulation agreement.

JOHNSON CITY – An articulation agreement has been established allowing students at five community colleges in Southwest Virginia to transfer to East Tennessee State University’s social work program.

Through this agreement, students at Mountain Empire, New River, Southwest Virginia, Virginia Highlands and Wytheville community colleges will be able to enter the ETSU program after two years of study.

“Virginia Highlands is proud to join ETSU in developing this pathway for our students to seamlessly transition to the bachelor of social work program,” said Dr. Hara Charlier, vice president of Instruction and Student Services at Virginia Highlands Community College.  “Working together, we have created a valuable tool that will guide students through every step of their education and ensure they are well-prepared for successful careers.”

ETSU is the closest public institution to most of these community colleges that offers a bachelor of social work (B.S.W.) degree, according to Dr. Michael Smith, chair of the Department of Social Work at ETSU.  He adds that this agreement will make it as easy and convenient as possible for students from Southwest Virginia to pursue the degree.

“One way of doing that is to make the curriculum much more deliberate for the students to follow at the community college level, and then to anticipate what they’ll be bringing when they transfer to ETSU and make that transfer as seamless as possible,” he said.  “Also, we’re making the upper-division social work curriculum available at the ETSU at Kingsport Downtown facility, getting it as close to where these students live as possible to reduce their driving time and make it more convenient.”

April Rainbolt-Smith, transfer articulation coordinator in ETSU’s School of Continuing Studies and Academic Outreach, says the new agreement is “an important outreach effort in ETSU’s regional mission, allowing the Department of Social Work and the community colleges to work together on shared regional problems.”

Some of these problems, Michael Smith said, include drug and alcohol abuse, child and elder neglect and abuse, morbid obesity and other health issues, as well as the need for improved delivery of mental health services.

The new articulation agreement and cooperation between the schools will help by getting more trained social workers into the field to address these issues.

“This gives the chance for students to pursue educational and professional opportunities that otherwise would not be accessible to them,” Smith said.  “Then there’s that ripple effect that happens, getting people into helping professions going back into their communities to improve the lives of others.”

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