ATLANTA—Approaching her office from a long corridor that winds from left to right, Breeanna Bellinger (B.S.W. ’15) knows her day at Dekalb County’s Office of the Public Defender will be filled with similar twists and turns. But solving these challenges is one of the reasons she loves her job, and more importantly, why she chose to become a social worker.
“I know it’s cliché, but I’ve always wanted to help people and make a difference in the world,” she said. “Social work is a unique profession because it combines methods from disciplines like medicine and psychiatry and focuses on a holistic perspective.”
The School of Social Work alumna and Licensed Master Social Worker particularly enjoys that her job with the county’s juvenile division allows her to work within all levels of social work practice. “Some social work professionals work either on the micro, mezzo or macro level. My job requires that I work within all three by implementing interventions with individuals, their communities and also on a larger systematic level.”
When she’s not working to identify community resources, provide motivation and eliminate barriers for children, she’s giving back to the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies. She’s given her time to Policy and Pancakes and Professionals in Residence, two signature programs created by the school’s Office of Career Services and Alumni Relations. The programs give students the opportunity to connect with alumni like Bellinger, who can share their collegiate and career experiences in small, intimate settings.
“I find it important that professionals share with students and peers the way we managed some of the challenges we’ve faced,” she said. “I also want students to know that no matter what they decide to do, they can effect change at every level.”
At the Career Services events, Bellinger discusses a number of topics, including how to negotiate a salary and how she prepared for her professional licensure. She frequently talks about the great diversity of jobs within the field.
“I often educate people on the misconception that social workers are only caseworkers and counselors,” she said. “Social work is a flexible career. There are social workers doing organizational management, social workers in the tech industry at places like Google, and others who are lobbyists, environmental health advocates and political representatives.”
While “serving the greater good in an ever-changing profession” requires multiple skills and talent, Bellinger remains confident.
“My academic career at AYS helped me to grasp the concept of social work,” she said. “I was able to build on and gain new soft skills through class discussion and field practice.”
She credits two professors, Karen Watkins and Deborah Marie Whitley with teaching her the value of critical thinking. She believes this skill prepared her for success in both graduate school and in navigating difficult issues in her career.
For information on how to apply to the School of Social Work, please visit https://aysps.gsu.edu/social-work/.