How I Got Ready: Lisa’s Story

Lisa Ewing ’20 arrived at Alverno with her sights set on a nursing degree, eager to build on her background as a surgical technologist. But once at Alverno, she discovered a new passion: social work.

“My whole initiative in life is helping people,” she explains. “Nursing focuses more on the physical elements of helping someone, and I realized that if I continued down that path, I’d miss out on helping out people in a more holistic way: physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally and socioeconomically. I just knew that nursing wasn’t for me anymore, and I was completely at peace with it.”

Ewing’s academic advisor, Kate Tisch, suggested she check out Alverno’s new health education or social work programs instead. After one social work class, Ewing was hooked. She remembers watching a documentary on the roots of the social work profession and learning that it started in church ministry.

“My faith is very important to me and aligns with everything I do, and I think that’s why I feel at home in social work,” Ewing says. “My life’s purpose is to fulfill my calling. I am truly grateful to be in a vocation where I am completely satisfied and fulfilled, and have the opportunity to do something I love, and feel like I am walking in the very work that’s intended for me.”

Crystal Aschenbrener, the chair of Alverno’s social work program, helped ignite Ewing’s excitement about the field. “She brings the real world of social work into the classroom, and I think it’s important for students to have that perspective,” Ewing explains. “She’s very knowledgeable and supportive, and she supplies all the tools and resources that you need to be successful.”

With Aschenbrener’s encouragement, Ewing began presenting at Alverno and other colleges about social work and the importance of self care in the helping professions. She was more than ready to speak up.

“At Alverno, we have to speak on our feet,” Ewing says. “It’s embedded in our academic curriculum, and that’s important because you have to be comfortable speaking to leaders, colleagues and others. I believe this experience helped groom me professionally and cultivated the skills that I need for my current work and in the future.”

That’s one reason why Ewing appreciates Alverno’s focus on the 8 Abilities. “One thing I love about Alverno is that it’s not about school, it’s about life,” she says. “Even though you’re pursuing an academic degree, Alverno teaches in such a way that it’s about your pursuit of life and how these skills are going to help you in life. It’s very innovative.”

Employers recognize the value of these interpersonal skills, which is why many students – including Ewing – are hired before graduation. Before her August 2020 graduation, she accepted a social worker position with Washington County’s children and families division.

While Ewing didn’t discover social work until her junior year, she has no regrets.

“I look at it with optimism. I enjoyed what I learned and I still apply it wherever I can,” she says. “What I’m most proud of is my tenacity and perseverance and resilience and how I’ve navigated through the road to even get to social work. I was kind of in limbo for awhile, but I finally found where I need to be. You have to have courage deep down in yourself and listen to the voice that tells you there’s something else you need to be doing.”

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