Amy Dennison, Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) and licensed clinical social worker, has joined the Illinois State University’s School of Social Work as the director of Master of Social Work student services. She is an alumnus of the program’s Bachelor of Social Work program and comes to us from the University of Illinois School of Social Work where she worked as a field implementation support specialist. She also worked for the Children’s Home Association of Illinois in Peoria in various positions for over nine years. Let’s get to know her.
Where are you coming to us from?
I have spent the majority of my social work career working in child welfare. I have done everything from casework to mental health to supervision and administration. I never thought my social work career would take me into child welfare, but it did, twice. Child welfare is one of those fields that sucks you in and you just can’t get out. I left once and worked in a community-based counseling program. However, child welfare called loudly and I ended up back there.
I will always have a passion for child welfare, as I believe it is one of the most difficult fields; worker turnover is incredibly high, funding is never high enough, and training and support don’t come as readily as necessary. But I am excited to take all of my previous experience and work with M.S.W. students to help them determine their career path in social work.
Why did you choose social work?
For the longest time I thought I wanted to be a teacher. I always enjoyed working with children. However, I eventually figured out that being a teacher would confine me to a classroom every day. I had that “aha!” moment and knew that social work would offer me the variety I wanted. I enrolled at Illinois State University the following year!
What do you hope to accomplish as director of M.S.W. student services?
As the director of M.S.W. student services, I hope to create relationships with the students that will guide them along their journey. I hope to be a safe space where students can share their struggles and challenges but also their successes and celebrations.
What do you find is the best part of the job so far?
The best part of the job so far is the co-workers, by far! Everyone has been so welcoming and helpful. I have been saying that coming back to ISU is like coming home and it already feels like family.
What else should we know about you?
I am the proud mom of three rescue beagles; Maggie, Charlotte, and Finn. Charlotte and Finn are both retired research dogs where they lived in laboratories and had horrible studies conducted on them. You will probably see pictures of my dogs frequently and hear me preach about using cruelty-free products.