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An M.S.W. Helped This Alumna Climb the Career Ladder


Tamika Mcknight-Ray wants to dispel the idea that social workers can’t make a good wage. 

She’s living proof of the opposite. Mcknight-Ray said that since earning her M.S.W. from Fordham in 2017, she has received a promotion every year as a government agency employee—and her salary has almost tripled. She thanks Fordham’s program for her rapid career advancement. 

“Fordham has an incredible reputation that’s well-earned,” she said. “I’m really blessed to have attended Fordham.”

A Busy M.S.W. Student

When McKnight-Ray enrolled in the M.S.W. program at GSS, she was already working full-time at the government agency, and she didn’t see that changing anytime soon. She already had her bachelor’s degree in social work and was on track to graduate in a year with her M.S.W. as a full-time advanced standing student. She powered through her coursework and field internship while keeping her full-time position. 

“I think you go into robot mode,” she said. “You know these are the things that have to get done, and you do it without thinking, and you know that you have to do this. You have to do these tasks in order to reach your ultimate goal. I kept my eyes on the prize.”

As an older student, McKnight-Ray said the support she had at school and home was vital to her success. 

“As an adult learner, your learning curve is a little bit different,” she said. “Fordham knew I had a work schedule, and I was well supported.”

Overcoming Career Fears and Facilitating Growth

In her current role, McKnight-Ray oversees a 60-resident dayhab and eight Individual Residential Alternatives (IRA)—community residences that provide room, board, and individualized service options. She is opening a ninth IRA soon. She also supervises a multidisciplinary team of nurses, psychologists, dieticians, habilitation specialists, and house managers.

In addition, McKnight-Ray recently passed the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) social work licensing exam on her first attempt. However, she said she had a lot of anxiety about taking the exam, which is why she is now taking it seven years after graduation (as opposed to immediately after, when M.S.W. graduates are eligible). 

“I was apprehensive about taking my licensure exam,” she said. “But finally, I said, ‘Enough is enough.’”

Although she was years past her M.S.W. graduation date, McKnight said the education she received prepared her well for the exam. 

“I think the reason I passed is because Fordham more than prepared me,” she said. “Even after I graduated, I can rely on them for study material. I reached out to them, and they invited me to their study sessions. So I was very prepared.”

Just Down the (Fordham) Road

As a child growing up in the Bronx, McKnight-Ray was right in Fordham’s neighborhood. However, the campus’s towering stone buildings and rich history could sometimes be intimidating. 

“It seemed like an unachievable goal to go there,” she said. “It’s such a huge, beautiful campus, and I’d always say, you know, one day I’d love to go to that school, and it just seems like everything aligned.”

Now, as an alumni, things continue to align for McKnight-Ray. She pursued a path she’s passionate about, and the result is not only financial well-being but also a rewarding career. 

“The most rewarding part is my individuals, and making a difference in their lives,” she said. “This is where I want to be.”


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