Master of Social Work graduate brings unique perspective to her field

Amy Wright discovered a passion for helping adults with disabilities during her studies at KUEC.

Amy Wright

Students at the KU Edwards Campus (KUEC) often overcome challenges to fulfill their education goals, whether that’s making a career change, returning to school to complete a degree, or pursuing their education alongside a full-time job. For 2019 Master of Social Work graduate Amy Wright, however, there were additional considerations. Wright worked three part-time jobs while completing her studies and practicum experience. She also assisted with a research project on teaching diversity in undergraduate- and graduate-level social work courses, which was recently published in the Journal of Social Work Education.

Wright brought a specific perspective and passion for advocacy to her studies and research which, on top of a strong work ethic, has informed her journey. “I have a vision impairment that I was born with, and a hearing impairment I was born with,” Wright said. “My vision is pretty good except that I have no usable vision in the left eye and limited in the right eye. My hearing is worse. I’m completely deaf in the left ear and have limited hearing in my right ear. I use hearing aids that help out quite a lot.”

Wright currently works with Mental Health America of the Heartland in partnership with Eitas, a developmental disability care provider for Jackson County and Kansas City, Missouri, providing mental health peer support to clients. Wright said she came to social work after pursuing a major in music performance at another university. “Though I love music, there were definite barriers. I can’t drive, and lack of transportation was a big barrier for that field,” Wright said. “I decided social work was a better fit for me. In hindsight, this idea had been rolling around in my brain for a few years, and it was the right time to take action.”

Wright said she chose the Edwards Campus for its proximity as well as the reputation of KU’s social work program and macro concentration in social work administration. “I must say I was very impressed with KUEC overall. The people were very nice, very helpful,” Wright said. “The schedules were flexible, and it was all around just a very good experience.”

Wright said she appreciated the MSW program’s hands-on, practical approach, and that it prepared her for work outside of her studies. As for her research work, Wright said that her experience as an adult living with disability proved to be valuable in observing certain elements of the project.

“I found that in some cases, the subject of disability was largely absent from the discussion. If it was mentioned, it was kind of a side note,” Wright said. “That’s one of the things that I was able to contribute to the class discussion in my graduate studies, was the perspective of being a person with disabilities in a society where most of my friends do not have disabilities. I’ve had a unique perspective on what was really going on, and what barriers still exist even 30 years after the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) was signed into law.”

Megan Paceley, assistant professor in the KU School of Social Welfare, led the research project Wright assisted with, and said Wright was a valuable collaborator. “Amy was such a joy to work with. She was a bright, attentive student with a heart for social justice,” Paceley said. “Amy asked questions when she needed to and never hesitated to back down from a challenge.”

While Wright pursued her studies at the Edwards Campus, she also worked as an exam proctor in the Student Services office. “It was a really good experience. I learned a lot about administrative tasks and expanded my administrative skills,” Wright said. “I had only worked retail up until that point outside of my internships, and that’s a totally different ballgame than working in an office.”

Misty Chandler, assistant dean of Student Services at the Edwards Campus, oversaw Wright in her role as exam proctor and said she saw how the experience helped prepare Wright for her current career. “Amy brought a personal perspective to her work as an exam proctor and demonstrated great care and concern for every student she served,” Chandler said. “The experience set her up for success with her current role.  The skills she learned are already being put to use in her role serving key populations that need both her expertise but also her compassion.”

Wright says her combined experience in the MSW program and so far in the social work field has helped her continue to understand her passions and evolve her ideas for the future. “My purpose in life is to help people who have disabilities to maintain a high quality of life while making sure that society is inclusive of everyone,” Wright said.

Are you interested in furthering your education while making a positive impact on the community? Learn more about how you can earn your KU Master of Social Work degree at the Edwards Campus in Overland Park.


cover of the Alumni Survey results

Get Insights from KU Graduates

Download this report filled with statistical and qualitative feedback from more than 500 alumni to help you decide if the KU Edwards Campus is right for you.

Cover to the Tips for a Successful Start PDF

Get started at the KU Edwards Campus

Download your guide for a successful start on your KU Edwards Campus undergraduate or graduate program, including information on financial aid, academic advising and more.

alumni report

Maximize Your Financial Aid

Download your guide for making the most of financial aid at KU Edwards Campus.

Cover to the The Adult Learner's Guide PDF

An Adult Learner’s Guide to Choosing the Right KC University

Helpful tips to choosing the right university in Kansas City.

Cover to the The Adult Learner's Guide PDF

Putting off your academic pursuits?

Download our eBook that addresses and debunks 7 of the biggest concerns adult learners have about returning to school.

Cover to the The Online Learner's guide

Find the right online program for you

Download your guide for tips and questions to ask when researching online learning options.