Social Work Program Challenges Students

by Public Relations

Social work students at Cedarville University are presented with a variety of challenges and opportunities to prepare them to serve Christ in their field.

One of the most important parts of the social work major is an internship experience. Cedarville’s two-tier program requires 150 internship hours for juniors and 450 hours for seniors. “Our students have to know what they’re doing when they get out there,” Julie Furj-Kuhn, M.S.W., assistant professor of social work, said. “It’s almost like a full-time job when they’re seniors.”

A thick field guide in Furj-Kuhn’s office attests to the number of internship opportunities students can pursue. The wide variety also reflects the reputation Cedarville has among area organizations. “The Lord has really blessed our program,” Furj-Kuhn said. “Miami Valley Hospital, for example, will not take any undergraduates except for Cedarville undergraduates.”

Social work students also have the opportunity to complete their internships abroad. Every summer and fall, they can choose to work and study in Uganda or Romania. Furj-Kuhn said the social work department is also working toward offering an internship program in India. “Once we get it up and running,” she said, “it’s going to be amazing.”

Social work students also have stretching experiences through their courses on campus. This spring, students in one of Furj-Kuhn’s classes invited a Nigerian anti-corruption leader to Cedarville to speak at an event they organized. The students chose to focus on human rights and social media, and they invited others to come and be educated on the issue.

Furj-Kuhn said the event serves another purpose for her and the students involved in planning it. “Everyone else gets to hear an amazing speaker on a global topic,” she said. “But really, for us as a class, [the point] is to be the hands and feet of Christ, because I would say that 100 percent of the speakers I have come across do not know the Lord.” Furj-Kuhn said she and her students have a unique opportunity to be a testimony to Jesus Christ in the time they spend with the speakers. “For us, that’s the really cool part,” she said.

On April 20, students in this class presented research to the Ohio College Association of Social Work Educators at Malone University. Their work focused on global topics such as cyberbullying, drug wars, mental health in China and the ripple effects of pornography.

This spring, the social work department also held its third annual continuing education workshop for professionals in the greater Dayton area. The proceeds will fund scholarships, and the workshop also provided social work seniors with the opportunity to network with area professionals.

Another important event for social work students occurs every year in the fall. During Homelessness Awareness Week, students in the Social Welfare Policy and Programs class organize “Dine Out for Hunger.” That week, every restaurant in Cedarville donates part of its proceeds, and all the money raised goes to support a local nonprofit. Furj-Kuhn said the event began four years ago and has gained momentum each year. “It’s been really fun to plan,” she said. “The community gets really pumped up about it.”

Cedarville students recently joined other Ohio universities at the State House for Advocacy Day. Furj-Kuhn said their goal was to explain to legislators what social workers do. “We are really saving you a lot of money,” she said, “and we work with every single population you can even think of.”

Furj-Kuhn said she wants students to see how close their work is to Jesus’ ministry. “Look at every book of the Bible,” she said, “minus maybe Song of Solomon, and tell me where there’s not some emphasis on how we should treat the poor.” In the field, Furj-Kuhn said students are challenged to speak loudly with their actions when they’re not allowed to proclaim Christ with words.

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University attracts 3,300 undergraduate, graduate and online students to more than 100 areas of study. Celebrating 125 years of education excellence, Cedarville is a Christ-centered learning community recognized nationally for rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings and leading student satisfaction ratings. Visit the University online at