If your father is an Episcopal priest and your mother is a psychiatric nurse, what are the odds you’d end up becoming a social worker?
For Brooke Hamilton, a Social Work Preceptor at Limestone College, those odds were extremely high. She credits the dinnertime conversations she listened to when she was growing up with helping her decide what career path to follow.
“I always knew I wanted to help people,” she explains, “I didn’t even know there was this thing called social work, that you could do this for a living.”
Armed with her bachelor’s of social work degree (BSW) from Limestone, and her master’s of social work degree (MSW) from the University of South Carolina, she’s spent the past 15 years helping people from all walks of life, first as a mental health counselor and later as a clinical social worker for Hospice Care of South Carolina.
“Having the BSW and the MSW has allowed me to minister to others and help them through advocacy, education and counseling,” she says.
For Hamilton, the most rewarding part of her career has been working in hospice. She believes that, “if you are not called to work in hospice you will not last but if you are called to it, it actually enriches your life. To see the support you can give families during that time is really important.”
Now a full-time faculty member at Limestone, she continues to work approximately 15 hours per week at Hospice Care of South Carolina, bringing these real world examples into the classroom.
“In social work, you are teaching skills that will be applied,” she explains. “Since I am still in the field, I can take fresh examples, like the recent Medicare changes, and ask my students; what will we do if we have to drop some clients? What are we going to do to find resources for families when we leave? How are we going to handle that lack of support?’ The class learns from the debate and discussion that follows.”
Her social work degrees have ended up being beneficial in two other endeavors –teaching and motherhood.
Hamilton currently teaches on the day campus, as well as in the Extended Campus evening and online classes. She uses the social work context – start where the client is – to decide which way to teach each class. “I try to get a feel for how the students are going to receive information. Are they visual learners or auditory learners, or, will they benefit from group work?”
She then adapts her teaching style to match the cohort.
When it comes to her own children, a 10-year-old daughter and a 5-year-old son, her social work background has proved to be extremely helpful.
“Raising my kids has probably been the best use of my degree. It’s taught me what’s normal, what’s not normal and when to not make a big deal out of something,” she explains. “I am trying to raise well-adjusted children so I sometimes do tap into what I learned in my social work classes.”