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Unveiling the Power of Macro Social Work: Insights from Resia Cooper, GSS ‘22


Resia Cooper graduated with a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree from the Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service in 2022. She attended the online MSW program as an advanced standing student, completing her field internship at the National Association of Social Workers – New Jersey Chapter (NASW-NJ). Currently, she works for the New Jersey and Delaware Chapters of the NASW as an engagement coordinator. She also creates content for MSW students and newly graduated social workers on her YouTube channel, @Rockingwithrae. 

What are you up to professionally?

Most of my role is looking for presenters to partner with the NASW. One of my biggest missions with taking the job was to diversify the speakers we see at the NASW on all levels and bring some fresh faces that are not people that are usually picked on but should be. 

So day to day, I stalk people on social media — Linkedin, YouTube — and I connect with them and see if there’s an opportunity for partnership.

What do you look for in a speaker for a partnership?

I look for three things. I look for stage presence. I look for individuality, so not someone that’s regurgitating something that they heard before. A lot of the information people share is known facts, but how you share it is important. I’m also looking for someone that can connect with students. Because although I look for speakers for regular members and our regular programming, my biggest passion is our students and our emerging professionals, because I feel like there’s not really a place for us. And I wanted to make a place.

Why did you want to be a social worker?

I had a lot of misconceptions about the profession. I took an Intro to social work class in my undergrad program, and I remember asking deeper questions, like ‘what kind of social worker are you?’ to my professor, and them telling me, ‘I’m a macro social worker. I’ve been in higher education my entire career.’ Those things spoke to me because I’m really big on policies and systems and Higher Ed, and I was like, wow, I didn’t know social workers can do that

That led me down a rabbit hole of macro social work and all the non-traditional things you can do as a social worker. And I was like, I want to be that person. I want to be the person that you know is a social worker, but is doing something outside of the box, outside of the scope of what other social workers are doing, and for people to ask me, how did you get there?

Why did you choose Fordham for your MSW?

I applied to three great programs, and I think what stood out about Fordham is the personalization I received. Fordham’s administration was such a great help, and I remember an administrator checking in on me for months, asking How are you doing? How can I help you? How can I support you? And that was even before I submitted an application. I thought, this is someone who is really invested in me. Fordham really went above and beyond.

I got the acceptance email, and I want to say two hours later I got a phone call congratulating me from the admission team. And I thought, these people are the real deal. So I think that’s what made me go with Fordham. Because I was like, okay, if anything, this is a family. And they’re going to have my back throughout this program. And they did.

And what are some of your favorite highlights of the program?

Taking my Staff and Supervising class, because it really helped me to fall in love with the nonprofit sector, and being in a position of leadership. The second thing I would say is just the opportunity to connect. When you’re in an online program, you kind of feel like I’m doing this by myself, and I’m in my own bubble, and I don’t have anyone else to connect with. And it wasn’t like that with Fordham; it was really engaging. 

How did the faculty support you throughout the program?

People ask this all the time – what is different about Fordham. And I think it’s the diversity. You see faculty members from all walks of life, all ethnic groups, all races, creeds, religions, and it gives you a different voice for every part of social work, and it allows you to have a broader scope of what social work is. They want to ensure that no one is left behind.

What’s one piece of advice you would have liked to have known as a new MSW graduate?

You don’t have to take the first job that you’re offered. You can market yourself as an expert because you are an expert, not because of a degree, but because you have lived experiences and field placement experience.

What’s the most important characteristic of a good social worker?

Have listening ears. I tell my kids that all the time. Listening ears allows you to hear people not to answer, but just to hear them. Of course, you’re going to answer them, but it allows you to hear people. 

Biggest breakthrough moment of your career so far?

I hosted a student summit for the NASW New Jersey chapter at their 30th annual conference, and that was a big thing for me. It was a two-day conference for students. I had 100 students from all over the United States show up. Seeing students come and feel valued and to hear from dynamic speakers.

Biggest challenge of your career?

Missing school! No one tells you when you’re in an intense program how much you’ll miss it once you graduate. I was telling someone recently, I guess I’m just going to go get my doctorate because I miss school. And I’m not the only one that feels that way. I think that there is some part of you that craves the hustle and bustle of getting a paper in and not knowing what the grade is going to be.

And the first year of real adult work is going to be challenging because you’re going to feel afraid that you don’t know the answers, but you’ll get there.

What are you most excited about for the future of social work?

I am most excited for social work going back to its roots. I think that we have become super clinically focused and that’s not the roots of social work. The roots of social work are community organizing and being out there in the forefront and being macro-based.

So, I’m most excited about people being excited about the non-clinical things that social work has to offer.

What was the motivation behind creating a YouTube channel?

There was no one talking about social work on YouTube. And then, ironically, I started the channel and then I met someone graduating with me who was also on YouTube. She did the same thing because there was no one talking about social work on YouTube. You would see people talk about travel social work or types of jobs, but there was nothing geared toward social work students.

And what’s the best piece of advice you’ve given to social work students through your channel?

I think the biggest piece of advice I’ve given to social work students through my YouTube channel was to apply anyway. I think a lot of people are afraid to apply to social work programs because we do require a lot in our program — personal statement, a certain GPA, and I’ve met with a lot of students who said, what if I don’t have the GPA, or I don’t have X, Y, and Z?

And I tell them to apply anyway. I’ve learned that social work professors and social work programs wholeheartedly want us to win, and they’re going to do everything in their power to make sure you get into the program and support you through that journey.


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