Last fall, Adam Powell, a social work major at Commonwealth University-Lock Haven, began an internship with CenClear Child Services in Bigler. But due to a neuromuscular disorder, he was unable to complete the internship, a requirement for his graduation, during the fall 2022 semester.
Powell has Charcot Marie Tooth disease, which causes damage to the peripheral nerves that transmit information and signals from the brain and spinal cord to and from the rest of the body and causes pain and fatigue in his extremities. His disorder, while it made it difficult for him to complete the required number of hours for his internship – did not stop him.
Working with faculty and staff at Lock Haven, Powell was able to graduate in December with a degree in social work and continue his internship into the spring 2023 semester, fulfilling all requirements for completion.
Powell’s duties at CenClear included working in the Head Start preschool, helping with child and classroom observation and documenting behaviors and interventions used with preschool children with elevated behaviors.
Powell took part in many preschool and outside agency meetings learning valuable skills working in the FCP department. He also was chosen to be featured in the CenClear newsletter, highlighting his work with the organization.
During his tenure at CenClear, Powell built a healthy therapeutic working environment with children and helped overcome adversity in the classroom. He said he felt a connection with the children he was working with and became empowered by their progress.
“My internship gave me a deeper insight into severe cases involving children from several disturbing and traumatic backgrounds,” Powell said. “Seeing the rehabilitation process gave me a better view of the job and career element of social work that is not as polished or technical as a classroom setting that requires more flexibility.”
Powell, of Ramey, Pa., began attending classes in the summer of 2021 and was part of Lock Haven’s first graduating class from the online social work program last fall. “I came to Lock Haven because they were accommodating for my physical disability and the avenue that the social work program offered. My instructors were the best part of LHU, as they were all very considerate, kind, and accommodating to me.”
Annjane Ross, assistant professor and coordinator in the social work field, said in addition to the program being fully online, which was exactly what Powell was looking for, he would also be eligible to sit for a bachelor-level license in social work through the state of Pennsylvania, following graduation from the accredited social work program.
“Adam is a conscientious student who went above and beyond expectations in and outside the university,” Ross said. “During his field placement at CenClear Child Services, I stayed in contact with his field supervisor who saw professional growth and maturity. He spent his time in the Head Start classroom helping and working with families. He is an excellent social worker who will continue to advocate for those in need of services.”
Powell plans to pursue a master’s degree in social work this summer and aspires to become a licensed social worker.