An aspiring social worker, 2021 KU graduate Toni Bond is devoted to touching the lives of others. The 54-year-old nurse seeks to empower trauma survivors as a licensed clinical social worker, and she’s well on her way. Bond graduates this May with a Bachelor of Social Work and has already been admitted to the KU School of Social Welfare’s Advanced Standing Master of Social Work program in addition to the Integrated Health Scholars Program.
When the pandemic’s stay-at-home order challenged her routine, Bond wasn’t afraid to ask for help. She credits her KUEC network – her professors, academic advisors and cohort – for their support and guidance during her academic journey.
“I felt encouraged by faculty throughout my time at KUEC,” Bond said. “The KU School of Social Welfare leadership has helped me to develop and embrace a new professional identity.”
Read more about Bond’s career transition and how she’s putting her newfound knowledge into practice.
Q: What is a typical day in your life like?
A: As a caregiver and a full-time student, a typical day involves prepping some things at home, attending class or my internship, completing home projects, cooking dinner and doing homework. Spending time outside and visiting with friends is also a priority when possible.
Q: What makes you the happiest?
A: Rain or shine, I am happiest when I am outside. I also enjoy opportunities to authentically connect with others.
Q: What motivates you?
A: I am motivated by my heritage, my husband Vic and some of the challenges that I’ve managed to overcome.
Q: Why did you choose KU and the Edwards Campus?
A: KU and the Edwards Campus have a reputation for excellence. The KU School of Social Welfare is where the strengths-based perspective was developed. KUEC makes returning to the classroom for nontraditional and working students convenient. After meeting with [Associate Director for Academic Success] Jody Johnson, I was confident about moving forward. His support and advocacy turned the idea of returning to school into a real possibility.
Q: How did KUEC meet your personal and/or academic needs?
A: I felt supported and encouraged by faculty throughout my time at KUEC. The social welfare program challenged my thinking and promoted self-awareness. The curriculum provided important context for the challenges that social workers encounter. I am transitioning from healthcare to social work. The KU School of Social Welfare leadership has helped me to develop and embrace a new professional identity.
Q: How has your degree prepared you for the future?
A: My program enhanced my understanding of the historical relevance of contentious social issues. My BSW education provided opportunities to learn about other groups of people, their unique challenges and evidence-based approaches to meeting them where they are. My degree is an asset that prepares me serve others with a client-centered, strengths-based practice.
Q: What was the most difficult part of earning your college degree and how did you overcome it?
A: Initially, the time commitment was most difficult. The pandemic, the stay-at-home orders and the constant digital environment turned out to be far greater challenges. I utilized my resources. I asked my husband, my field instructor and my cohort for what I needed. Their support and the guidance of my academic advisor, Amea Chandler, are what made my success possible.
Q: What is your proudest accomplishment?
A: I am proud of my decision to return to school to pursue a new profession. I am probably proudest of who I strive to be as a wife, mother and friend.
Q: What is your favorite memory of your time at KUEC?
A: I especially enjoyed the rich classroom discussions about complex social issues. My cohort and I often shared meaningful parts of our own personal stories during sensitive discussions. Sharing our challenges and experiences promoted cohesion within the group.
Q: What are your long-term career goals and how do you plan to achieve them?
A: My goal is to become a licensed clinical social worker. I would like to empower trauma survivors who seek recovery through counseling. I would like to become a professor of the practice. I will achieve this by completing graduate school, doing field work and being proactive about obtaining specialized post-graduate training opportunities.
Q: What would you tell others that are thinking of earning a degree?
A: Do it. It’s never too late to pursue your goals. Challenge yourself at every opportunity. It’s okay to ask for and accept help if needed. There will be others on the journey to help along the way. You don’t have to do it alone.