Social Work Spotlight: Meet Social Work-Infant Mental Health Student Katherine Pfeiffer

Katherine PfeifferLike many of our non-traditional students, Katherine Pfeiffer was looking for a school close to home with the program flexibility to work around her busy schedule. She visited every school within two hours of her home to tour the campus and learn more about the programs. Drawn in by the urban Detroit location and commitment to community engagement, Katherine selected Wayne State University. Katherine has her bachelor’s in social work with a minor in child welfare from Oakland University and is currently a student in the Wayne State dual-title Social Work and Infant Mental Health Program (IMH), which helps students gain a thorough understanding of research and clinical work with infants and families. IMH graduates are prepared to become researchers, university faculty or practitioners who work in clinical cross-disciplinary teams with infants and families. 

What drew you to the IMH Program?

I went to the Concentration Day for the MSW program when I was still deciding on a school.  At the end of the day, I spoke with Carla Barron about the IMH program.  Everything she told me made me feel like I found my purpose in school.  I drove to the event with some friends, and on the way home I told them that I chose my school.  It feels like everything I have been working toward came together in the program.

What is your favorite course in the program?

This is a hard question because I really love so many of my classes.  If I have to pick, it would probably be my intervention class (SW 8880).  I love that everything I learned about infant and child development, assessment, and treatment planning came together to show what it will look like to actually work with clients in the field.  So many of the interventions really resonate with me and I can see opportunities to use them in my work.

How has the program been beneficial to you?

First of all, I have been able to connect with other students in the program and make some really meaningful relationships, even despite Covid and distance learning.  Second, the internship I was placed at has been such a positive experience.  I love that I was able to get a placement that directly works with the IMH program.

What do you plan to do after you graduate?

After I graduate, I’m going to take a deep breath, spend some time with my family, and then hopefully get a job in IMH.  I am hopeful that I will get a job at my internship agency and keep doing what I love.

Any advice for new Warrior students?

Get to know your professors.  Spend some time sharing what your passions are with them.  They are a huge source of support that you can lean into throughout the program.  And soak it all in, because it will fly by.

How do you empower change in your community?

This year was tricky for volunteering.  I have been able to do some work with the Roman James Foundation.  The foundation helps pay funeral costs for babies who pass away while in the NICU.  I was able to mail postcards for them and do some fundraising.  The pandemic made it so hard for so many foundations and agencies to keep going, and I think it’s so important to get creative about helping out.

Your favorite quote:

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples.” - Mother Teresa

View the dual-title Social Work and Infant Mental Health degree program video. Learn more

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