“Jesus tells us ‘blessed are the poor,’ and it is with that belief that I wanted to pursue my social work education at a school rooted in Catholic social teaching,” says Kaitlyn Feeley, an M.S.W student at Catholic University’s National Catholic School of Social Service (NCSSS), where she also received her bachelor’s in social work in May 2016.
NCSSS is a highly rated school of social work. The rankings include the Social Work Degree Guide’s Top 25 Christian Colleges for a Social Work Degree Program 2015 in which NCSSS was rated the #1 Catholic college and the #2 Christian college nationwide.
NCSSS also was ranked fourth out of the top 20 best online master’s in social work programs by BestColleges.com, 25th out of the top 50 master’s programs by College Choice, 47th out of more than 230 graduate school programs by US News & World Report, and it was #16 of the top 30 social work and social welfare graduate programs ranked by Princeton Review's Gourman Report of Graduate Programs.
“Our authenticity in our mission of Catholic social teaching is what sets us apart,” says NCSSS Dean Will Rainford.
“Our faculty members, who are all highly acclaimed in their fields and academic formation, are involved in teaching, research, and service that both actualizes and operationalizes the charity, mercy, and justice Pope Francis calls for. When you do social work from that framework you are really transforming people’s lives,” says Rainford, who in November received the St. Louise de Marillac Award from the Catholic Social Work National Association for his leadership and contributions to Catholic social work in the United States.
“I adore Pope Francis and absolutely love what he says about working with the poor and vulnerable,” says Feeley, who is one of 15 M.S.W. students in the inaugural group of Pope Francis scholars at NCSSS. “It has been humbling to receive a scholarship in his name to pursue my master’s degree,” she says.
Feeley, who wants to be a school social worker, currently has a field placement at a Washington, D.C., public high school, where among her students, some are facing homelessness. In working with them, she says she has had some “beautiful moments.”
“I work with my students to empower them to discover their strengths and self-confidence and self-worth,” says Feeley.
“NCSSS has a tremendous impact on the region. On any given day, over 230 NCSSS students are at work in field placements in the D.C metro area. We have clinical affiliations at approximately 450 community agencies, schools, and hospitals,” says Rainford.
“I have been impressed by the quality of the social work program at NCSSS. The students are enthusiastic, hard working, and dedicated to the profession. Their energy and their pursuit of knowledge and professionalism is contagious,” says Susan Gallucci, a clinical supervisor and the executive director of The Northwest Center, a nonprofit agency in Washington, D.C., that provides services that allow women to continue their pregnancies, deliver healthy babies, and adequately care for them after they are born.
Sophomore social work major Frank Gaetani says already he has had amazing experiences as an NCSSS student, including participation in a course on immigration that took him and his classmates on a mission trip to the Mexico border for two weeks.
“The professors are one of the biggest pluses of the program for me. They are not just teaching from a book, they teach by example and share their experiences. They are living the Catholic mission of the school. I go to class every day reassured that this is the place I want to learn and train to be a social worker.”