SSWR 2019 Conference Reflection

L-R: Catherine Kramer, Kyle Ganson, Kess Ballentine, & Emma Carpenter

L-R: Catherine Kramer, Kyle Ganson, Kess Ballentine, & Emma Carpenter

Wow! I can’t believe that it’s been almost 2 weeks since SSWR! The conference is always such a blur. 

I think we forget sometimes that SSWR is not just a 4-day conference but a whole organization. As the doctoral student representative on the board, my job is to make sure the needs of doctoral students are represented and taken into account. Not just at the conference, but across the year. I take this job seriously and I want to make sure the work I’m doing to the Board benefits SSWR’s doctoral student members. 

At the luncheon this year, I chose to focus on making sure doctoral students knew about the work that I, along with the newly formed doctoral student committee, is doing. My goal with the luncheon was to give doctoral students a space to come together and meet their peers across the country and the world. At the beginning of the luncheon, I asked people to sit with new people and to invite folks they didn't know to join their table. And you all did! It was inspiring to see new connections being made and to hear great conversations about the conference, doctoral student life, and the amazing research you all are doing. 

For those of you who couldn’t be there, I want you to know that there are exciting things happening and ways to get involved in SSWR all year along! And while some amazing work has happened to date, there is still work to do. The doctoral student committee started as a taskforce in 2014, and recently became an official committee of SSWR. I am so glad that the needs of doctoral students are being taken seriously! This year, we will continue to create content designed for doctoral students in Social Work/ Social Welfare programs—like our This is How I Work Series and the Doctoral Student Spotlight. We will also continue to work on mentoring initiatives—like working on Coffee with a Scholar of the 2020 conference to match even more students with mentors and trying to create peer mentoring connections. We have such an amazing network of students, and I’m excited to leverage that network in new and exciting ways. 

I also know there is a lot of work to do to ensure that ALL of the doctoral student members feel included and represented in SSWR. This year, we are making a strong effort to recruit a diverse group of students, to better represent students of color, and to ensure programs reflect their needs. If you have ideas about programs you would like to see, please reach out to myself or other members on the committee. If you are interested in joining this effort, please consider applying for the committee. We truly are the future of SSWR, and we can start building that future now. 

Happy 2019, doctoral students! I hope to be connecting with you all soon! 

Emma Carpenter, MSW
PhD Program in Social Welfare 
School of Social Work
University of Wisconsin, Madison