When Caitlin Kreutz’s family had to move 3,000 miles across the US, it didn’t deter her from pursuing her passion. Her career aspirations pointed toward mental health clinical work, and she enrolled in Fordham’s Master of Social Work program not long after changing coasts.
“I realized that the most effective way that I could become a therapist was by becoming a social worker,” she said. “I could learn more about the person in the environment, how people are impacted by the environment that they’re in, and how it impacts their mental health.”
Social work’s holistic approach to empowering clients drew her into the profession, and Fordham’s intimate classroom setting attracted her to the school.
“I appreciated the small classroom sizes. I felt like it was easier to make connections with professors,” Kreutz said. “Which is something that I’ve really enjoyed doing during my time at Fordham.”
Over the summer, Kreutz was brought on in a full-time caseworker position at Settlement Health’s Harlem location, where she completed her first-year field internship at GSS.
“I received a lot of support from the providers [at Settlement Health],” she said. “I think that contributed to being hired on afterward, because I was able to be integrated as part of the team.”
A Welcome Challenge
When Kreutz began her first-year internship at Settlement Health last year, her field supervisor told her it would not be easy. Since Settlement Health is a community health care center, this particular experience would be extremely hands-on. Kreutz would act as a part of an integrated team, working alongside doctors, nurses, and other providers to deliver services.
However, Kreutz, who has a previous clinical background, was ready for the challenge.
“We [Kreutz and her fellow interns] really did get a taste of what a social worker’s role is,” she said.
In fact, Kreutz excelled enough in the position that the organization asked her to join the team as a full-time case manager over the summer between semesters.
“There was a really good office culture, and I loved working in that team environment,” Kreutz said. “It was a tight team, and I was integrated into the team.”
Kreutz said the client population at her clinic in East Harlem contained many Spanish-speaking migrants. This worked to her strengths — Kreutz is bilingual and has experience living and working in a Spanish-speaking country.
“I actually lived in Mexico for a year and a half,” she said. “That [experience]spurred my interest in helping people in difficult situations caused by social issues, specifically.”
Although she’s not working at Settlement Health this semester, Kreutz has continued to support and advocate for the migrant population. She currently serves as an intern with Her Migrant Hub, an initiative founded by GSS professors Dana Alonzo, Ph.D., and Marciana Popescu, Ph.D., to support women asylum seekers in New York City.
“I’m excited to continue working with migration,” Kreutz said. “Especially here in New York City. It’s such a crisis right now.”
Seeking Opportunities and Finding Mentors
Kreutz has also taken advantage of research opportunities at Fordham GSS. She is a research assistant under GSS Associate Professor Binta Alleyne-Green, Ph.D.
“I absolutely love Caitlin. She’s a pleasure to work with. I appreciate and admire her work ethic,” Alleyne-Green said. “She’s competent and efficient in every task I’ve asked of her. We’re currently working on a manuscript from our research study, and Caitlin has been a significant contributor to the manuscript.”
This type of mentorship was top-of-mind for Kreutz when she enrolled. She knew the best minds in social work headed the classrooms at Fordham. She wanted to take advantage of that access.
“Dr. Alleyne-Green has become a mentor to me,” Kreutz said. “During undergrad, I would feel like I didn’t belong. But in this program, I’ve been trying to just go for it.”
Kreutz took that same mentality into her time at Settlement Health. She said she began conversations with supervisors early about post-graduation opportunities for employment.
“Since the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health has taken the forefront in the health care industry, and organizations are talking about expanding their teams,” she said. “So I had those conversations with my supervisors and the providers about if they want to expand their team and asking if there’d be a place for me.”
Making these connections—and, importantly, keeping them—is crucial for Kreutz as she approaches graduation.
“You need those connections as you pursue your career, especially in New York City,” she said. “Fordham has so many campuses, a tight-knit community, and you can stay connected with professors. I’ve had a great experience.”