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Alumni Profile- Marc Sloan & Russette Marcum-Embry

Marc Sloan (BSSW 2019, MSSW 2020) and his mother Russette Marcum-Embry (MSSW Online 2019) studied social work together for three school years at UTCSW, and graduated from their respective programs in 2019. Marc then continued into the advanced standing MSSW program, also concentrating in organizational leadership, and graduated in May of 2020.

What program were you in at UTCSW?
I graduated in May of 2019 from the College of Social Work with a Bachelor of Science in Social Work (honors concentration) and a minor in business administration. I took a traditional route to college out of high school, but my journey to social work was not traditional in that I actually came in as a social work major, whereas many students “find” social work as a degree option after some time. That said, I was briefly sidetracked and changed my major to engage in some values clarification to determine whether I was seeking a path in this profession for the right reasons. After an experience as a volunteer at the Boys & Girls Club, I returned to social work knowing there was no better way to engage in community change than a degree from the CSW, and planned to study macro social work. It was around this time that my mom began her MSSW in the extended study program, studying organizational leadership.

Russette: I graduated from UT’s Online MSSW program in May of 2019. I completed the extended study program focusing on organizational leadership. I received my Bachelor of Arts degree from UT in 1993, so I was a bit apprehensive about going back to school. The College of Social Work and all those involved were very supportive and encouraging. It was a wonderful experience!

What is one of your favorite memories from the College of Social Work?

The cohort model of both the undergraduate and graduate social work degrees makes these programs so unique, as I was able to progress through classes with largely the same group of students. Not only did this allow us to grow closer as individuals and friends, but it allowed for collective growth as scholars and students. I was able to watch my friends and fellow students develop as generalist practitioners and then as clinicians or community organizers. This is so valuable in the social work profession, as you graduate and continue to work with the same folks; since you already have a connection and rapport, you know you’re coming from the same principles and values you practiced in the classroom. I was fortunate to study these values around the country and the world through my time at the CSW, from trips to the United Nations (join the Macro Social Work Student Network!) to community development in Ghana.

Russette: Entering the program at my age, I was focused on the classes and the finish line. What I didn’t expect was to make a very good friend! She is an energetic and amazing young adult who was so supportive of my endeavors. We have continued to keep in touch. I would have to say though, that my favorite memory is walking across the street from my workplace to watch Marc and a fellow student compete in the poster contest at Social Work Day on the Hill in Nashville. They traveled from Knoxville to be part of the event. I was in the unique position to support him as his mother and as a fellow social work student!

Can you tell us where you work and what your job entails?

Marc: I am a second-year law student at William & Mary Law School in Williamsburg, Virginia. During my graduate degree program, I served as both a social work intern and graduate assistant with University Housing on campus at UT, where I studied and worked on trauma-informed housing policies and organizational/programmatic assessment. Since then, I have held a law clerkship with the Virginia Department of Corrections, working on institutional compliance with governing statutes and regulations, as well as assisting the Virginia Board of Local and Regional Jails on regulatory best practices. I am currently a graduate assistant for Community Values & Restorative Practices at William & Mary, where I help administer the student code of conduct.

Russette: I am currently serving as the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) grants manager for The Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth. I work with the CASA programs to facilitate annual contracts, quarterly reimbursement of grant dollars and any technical assistance needed.

How has what you learned at UTCSW helping you with your job?

Marc: When I came to law school, I made a list of the social work values and practices that I wanted to inform my study and practice of law every day. These included the dignity and worth of the person, a systems-based perspective, and more. I did this so I wouldn’t forget the framework through which social workers operate, all of which I learned through my experience at the CSW. In my time as a law clerk for a state agency, or through my daily work with students at William & Mary, I remind myself of what it means to be a social worker, and always keep the anti-oppressive practice at the forefront of the decision-making processes.

Russette: My experience with UTCSW has been vital to my career path at TCCY. The MSSW curriculum stays in tune with innovations in research and practice. Since graduating in 2019, I have been more involved in program work at our agency and I am now serving on TCCY’s Youth Justice Team. I also have the privilege of serving as field instructor for students in the MSSW program at UT. This has quickly become a favorite part of my role at TCCY.

How have the two of you taken different paths in the social work field?

Our paths have largely been similar in that we share interests in juvenile justice and social welfare best practice from a macro perspective, but our institutional roles are quite different. My mom has focused on juvenile justice and grants administration through work with several agencies and organizations, while I made the decision to transition professionally into the practice of law. That said, I credit a lot of my journey through social work to her, as I grew up learning from her in her roles as a helper: parent-teacher organization volunteer, church teacher, girl scout troop leader, and home-school teacher; she modeled the way for me and it’s my goal to do that for others!

Russette: Marc and I have shared interests in youth justice and systems change. Marc is in his second year at William and Mary Law school. I look forward with great anticipation to see what he does professionally! I plan to continue my learning and professional development with TCCY as long as they will let me! There is no question that Marc’s educational path inspired me to purse a social work degree. The values of social work have been important to me for years, but in watching him, I knew I wanted to take the steps to align my career with those values.