I’d like to start, oddly enough, with a popular song entitled, “Waiting on the World to Change,” by John Mayer. I’m sure that many of you know the song. Mayer sings that, “We see everything that's going wrong with the world and those who lead it. We just feel like we don't have the means to rise above and beat it.”
I had this feeling that there was something more I could do in the world, but I didn’t know what it was. I was working at a hotel when 9/11 struck. The hotel volunteered to become a grief center for families and victims of 9/11. As part of that, social workers from the Red Cross and other agencies were set up in the lobby, providing assistance to family members of the missing, as well as survivors of the collapse of the towers. That was a defining moment for me. I knew in my heart that I could be doing more in the world; that I could be deploying myself more fully. However, it wasn’t until that moment that I saw the difference between the help that I could provide, and the help that the social workers could provide. No one needed help with luggage. They needed referrals, crisis intervention, and counseling. In short, they needed professional social workers.
I think there is sometimes a societal assumption that anyone can do social work. That is entirely untrue, and in that moment, at the hotel, I saw how untrue it was because I could see that good intentions were not enough. It takes training and skill and hard work to become a professional social worker. The Springfield College School of Social Work provides students with the knowledge, skills, and preparation necessary to become an effective member of this profession.
Excerpt from 2007 Convocation speech.