Author Archives: ubsocialworkblog

Why I Chose a MSW/MBA Degree Program

by Kelly Zaky, Graduate Student, University at Buffalo

One of the great things about the University at Buffalo (UB) is how well it accepts and supports the diverse passions of its students, often encouraging innovation resulting from multiple perspectives. Undergraduate students are encouraged to take “pathways” (a series of courses that look at similar topics within different disciplines) to have a more well-rounded experience and knowledge, and this same idea transfers into the varieties of graduate degrees. The University currently offers many interdisciplinary, dual, and collaborative degrees that combine undergraduate, masters’, and doctoral programs.  The School of Social Work offers these joint degrees: BA/MSW, MSW/MBA, MSW/MPH, MSW/JD, and MSW/PhD.
To approach the countless challenges that society faces today, we need to be more progressive and innovative in our problem-solving and tackle challenges from various standpoints to find new solutions.  The world often seems to progress faster than society can find answers!


The program that I am currently in at UB, the dual Master of Social Work/Master of Business Administration (MSW/ MBA) program, offers students both classroom and practical field experience in the business and social work fields.  I have a very “social service” focused background, having earned a B.A. in Psychology and then spending two years working with nonprofits. I found I had a true passion for and wish to pursue a career in the nonprofit sector.  I thought that the next step would be to pursue a graduate degree in nonprofit management, including business courses.
On the UB School of Social Work website and found the dual MSW/MBA program that met my desire to focus on social issues combined with business acumen. The more I read about the dual degree program, the more confident I felt that this was the next step toward my future. The MSW/MBA offered me the best of both worlds: the chance to become educated on the business aspects that are needed in a successful nonprofit, as well as the chance to dig deeper into social work and human service to better equip myself to help those I longed to serve in my career.
Now, at the beginning of Spring 2020, I have just completed my first semester: the first year is fully MBA, the second fully MSW, and the third a mix of both.  I cannot yet speak to the social work side of things, but I can speak to what I see as the heart of UB’s MBA program, which I feel exemplifies interdisciplinary innovation that is at the center of these dual degrees.  As is common among accredited MBA programs, the UB program separates each cohort into teams of five or six individuals, often of different educational, cultural, and experiential backgrounds.  For example, my team consists of a civil engineer/MBA student, a finance major who graduated last May, a business undergrad who graduated May 2018, a third business undergrad who came back after one year of post-graduation work experience, an international student who has many degrees and years of work experience in India, and myself.  As a team, we work together for the entire first year of our MBA, collaborating on group projects, sitting together during many classes, and having meetings on most days of the week.


A group of six MBA students, four men and two women. Kelly Zaky is the second from the right.

Kelly (second from R) and her MBA team. Photo courtesy of the author.


In our Organizational Behavior class during the first semester, we had an in-class activity that was aimed at showcasing the problem of “group waste” that occurs with groupthink in teams. In the exercise (a wilderness survival scenario), we were stranded after a plane crash with ten items that we salvaged from the wreckage. We had to rank these items from most to least important; first we ranked them as individuals, then as a team. The best rankings, determined by a Marine, were then provided. All of my team had better scores on our own than together, meaning our “group waste” was high. We then verbalized what we all felt, which was that our team struggled to work together cohesively. The six of us were about as different as we could be and approached problems in completely different ways, and did not always understand where each other was coming from. In order to be a productive team, we had to start really digging into who we were as a group, building rapport and finding ways to be effective together.
What began the semester as one of my biggest thorns (lack of group rapport) became one of my biggest strengths.  My team, though they sometimes tried my last nerve, was also a constant source of my laughter, and of the increased confidence and learning I experienced throughout the semester.  We started off slow, but as we got to know one another and build relationships, both as a team and individually, we began to work cohesively.  It has only been one semester and I have already been stretched beyond my narrow limits of understanding. Where I was often challenged by my impatience, I was also challenged to see new, alternative ways to look at situations from perspectives that I had not considered before.
For me, this is the most exciting part of my dual degree.  I can not only to fully invest myself into both the business and social work halves of my degree, but also to find ways to meld the two ways of thinking into one. The program will allow me to acquire the skills I will need to be able to be an innovative, social change-maker, learning better ways to navigate and utilize interdisciplinary teams who are tasked with problem-solving complex social problems. It will result in a more complete skill set than what I would have with simply one of these degrees.


Head and shoulders photo of Kelly Zaky: Yound white woman, long brown hair, red-framed glasses, with brown top an dblack jacket. She is smiling.

Photo courtesy of the author

Kelly Zaky is in her first year of the joint MSW/MBA program at the University at Buffalo. She is from Buffalo, NY, and graduated in 2017 with a B.A. in Psychology from Niagara University.  She then pursued a year of volunteering with a nonprofit based in Phoenix, Arizona, and learned she had a passion for the issue of transitional housing. Kelly returned to Buffalo and worked at the Newman Center at UB for one year, before making the tough decision to leave to pursue this full-time, three-year degree.

#MacroSW Chat 2/13/2020: A Conversation with NASW about Legislative and Social Justice Priorities

Reblogged from #MacroSW: Where Social Workers Connect About Macro Practice,
Post by Kristen Battista-Frazee:
Editor’s Note: If you have any priorities that you’d like NASW to address, please email or join the chat on Feb. 13th!


Announcment for teh February 23, 2020 #MacroSW Twitter Chat: "A conversation with NASW about legisaltive and social justice priorities." Photo is of a Black woman, weraing a blue dress,with black glasses adn a heart-shaped pendant.

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) works on a range of policy initiatives which supports and affects social workers nationwide. All social workers can play a role in the policy work undertaken by NASW.  Also, your community priorities and efforts need to be shared to create necessary synergies a the local and national level.

Join our chat on Thursday, February 13 at 9 p.m. Eastern (6 p.m. Pacific) co-hosted by NASW who will share their legislation and social justice priorities and macro practice initiatives. The goal of this chat is for NASW to receive your feedback about their legislative work and learn about your policy priorities in your local community and state.

Questions from NASW

  1. What areas in macro practice do you think the social work profession should tackle?
  2. What issues and legislation are you and your organization working on?
  3. NASW signed on to a letter demanding President Donald Trump rejoin the Paris accord to address global warming. Is anyone working on the issue of climate change?
  4. How can NASW support what you are doing in macro practice and policy work?
  5. NASW has long been committed to improving the rights of people of color. What are you doing on this issue? How can you work with NASW to achieve the goal of equal rights for all? #MacroSW


NASW Policy Issues

NASW Social Justice Priorities and Briefs

Protecting Social Workers and Health Professionals from Workplace Violence Act of 2019 (HR 5138/ S.2880)

Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Services Act introduced by Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) and co-sponsored by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA),

Improving Access to Mental Health Act

Resources for “Social Work’s Response to Immigration”

by Pat Shelly

The #MacroSW Chat on January 30, 2020 is “Social Work’s Response to Immigration.” That blog post can be found at


Signs at a rally for immigrant rights: "Immigratns make America Great" in red and blue lettering, "No Hate No Fear Refugees are Welcome Here."

Photo: Nitish Meena on Unsplash

Here are a few resources to prepare for the chat’s discussion questions.


Aguilar, C. (2019, June). Emotions and Politics: A Social Work Response to the Mental Health of Immigrants. SWHelper. Retrieved from

Fratzke, S. and Dorst, E. (2019, November).  Volunteers and Sponsors: A Catalyst for Refugee Integration? (Policy Brief). Retrieved from

Haidar, A. (2017). Social workers and the protection of immigrant and refugee rights. In University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration Advocacy Forum. Retrieved from

Jani, J.S. and Reisch, M. (2018). Assisting the least among us: Social work’s historical response to unaccompanied immigrant and refugee youth. Children and Youth Services Review, Volume 92 (September 2018), pp. 4-14. Retrieved from

National Association of Social Workers. (2019). Child Migrant Protection Toolkit. Retrieved from


Please add any resources you found helpful in our “Leave a comment” above the title.

Digital Technology for Social Work Practice with Laurel Hitchcock: #MacroSW Chat — Jan. 23, 2020

#MacroSW Twitter Chats are held each Thursday night at 9 PM Eastern / 8 PM Central / 6 PM Pacific.

Welcome to the first #MacroSW chat of 2020!
Recently, the chat organizers made a commitment to address White Supremacy in social work. For this chat, we ask that you keep in mind the following:

What effect does White Supremacy have on access and utilization of technology in professional practice?
How do social workers in professional practice experience or observe White Supremacy in regard to the use of technology? Do you or your colleagues see areas of concern? These questions provide a lens with which to consider digital technology in social work practice and can enrich discussions about our profession.

In the inaugural Spring 2020 #MacroSW Chat,  “Digital Technology for Social Work Practice,” we will look at how social work practitioners can use digital technology in our practice. Laurel Hitchcock @laurelhitchcock, whose blog “Teaching and Learning in Social Work”, regularly addresses digital and other technology will lead the chat.  We hope to hear from practitioners, as well as students who are developing their own digital literacy and professional use of this technology.

Hosted by the University at Buffalo School of Social Work @UBSSW

See the entire Spring 2020 schedule of chats here:
The chats will discuss white supremacy in social work (on April 9, 2020), immigration, organized labor, policy-focused and nontraditional jobs, decolonizing field education, and lots more.

New to twitter chats? Here are some answers to frequently asked questions:

Discussion Questions:

Q1: Why do #SocialWorker need to incorporate social & digital technology into their practice with clients and communities?

Q2: What are the benefits of using technology in #socialwork practice with clients & communities?

Q3:  What are the challenges of using technology in #socialwork practice with clients & communities?

Q4: In what ways might digital technology empower marginalized populations and communities? How could #Socialworkers support marginalized populations with digital technology?
(Note: In terms of race, class, ethnicity, national origin, gender identity and more, “marginalized communities” may or may not have overarching commonalities. Different marginalized communities may have idiosyncratic issues that chat participants might want to address.)

Q5: How do you use digital technology in your #socialwork practice? Or how would you like to use it?

Q6: As a helping professional, what do you want to learn more about related to using digital & social technology in professional practice?

smartphone so me icons DOCFORCE

Photo: Docforce









Developing a Professional & Ethical Online Presence for Social Work Practice (Conference Presentation) (10/2/19) with Allison Curington

Three Ways to Model Good Boundaries with Technology in Social Work Ed (9/2/19)

What is a Professional Collaboration Network (PCN) & why do you need one? (12/17/19)

#SWDE2019 Keynote – What role will Social Workers choose in shaping the digital future? (4/13/19) with Laurel Hitchcock, Melanie Sage & Nancy J. Smyth


For Social Work Educators:
Hitchcock, L.I., , Melanie Sage, and Nancy J. Smyth. (2019). Teaching Social Work with Digital Technology. Alexandria, VA: CSWE Press.

Learn more about the #SWTech online community:
#SWTech: The Beginnings of an Online Community (3/31/19)

#SWTech – An Introduction and History of the Online Group (8/15/19) with Melanie Sage, Jonathan Singer & Nancy J. Smyth

Our Guest Expert:

LaurelHitchcock Laurel Hitchcock, MPH, MSW, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Social Work at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She was a regular host and contributor to the #MacroSW Chat from 2014 through 2018. Laurel co-authored “Teaching Social Work with Digital Technology,” (2019), with Melanie Sage and Nancy Smyth. She is co-founder of  #SWVirtualPal, with Dr Amanda M L Taylor-Beswick; this is an online community for social workers from around the globe, encouraging collaboration on international projects. Her “Teaching and Learning in Social Work”blog:  Follow her on Twitter at @laurelhitchcock.


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