A Path and A Purpose

For Bethany Caldwell, the path to a career she loved was trial by error. Though she always knew she wanted to work with people, Bethany had a hard time describing what her dream job really was. 

When she started at Huntington University as a freshman elementary education major, Bethany quickly realized it wasn’t a perfect fit. After a few classes, she decided to switch and become a Bible and religion major. Even then, Bethany was still not convinced that she was doing what she really wanted. Then one night, a girl who lived on Bethany’s floor told her about the experiences she received through the social work program. 

“I didn’t even know what social work was,” she admitted.

But the social work program sounded like exactly what she wanted to do. She changed her major for the last time as she started her junior year at HU.

Dr. Carla MacDonald really got me excited about the program,” Bethany said. “She has decades of experiences that made the classroom material practical, and realistic and something we all could really grab onto.” 

Bethany also noted that the social work internship requirement helped all the students in her program.

“Direct contact with social workers in the field was so important. It set realistic expectations about what being a social worker was going to be like, and it immediately applied all the classroom material we were learning — we could literally take what we learned and apply it with to our clients later that day.”

After graduating with her bachelor’s in social work, Bethany went to graduate school and completed her master’s in social work from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in just 10 short months. Now she’s the transitional program supervisor at Bethany Christian Services in Grand Rapids, Michigan, an adoption and foster care agency for refugee and immigrant children.

“I love the reunions I see through my work,” Bethany said. “We work with children for short and very long periods of time, and after that we reunite families that haven't seen each other for years — it’s incredibly emotional and rewarding.”

No matter what job Bethany takes on next, she knows that she will stay in social work and continue to do the work she loves.

“I think getting my bachelors in social work was the best decision for me,” she said. “I finished the program quickly, and the degree is very marketable — I could go into therapy or counseling supervision or more. Social work opened the door for me to work with any population, anywhere in the world. I still love it.”