Make Waves, Move Mountains, Change Lives

Columbia University Dean Jeanette Takamura

JEANETTE TAKAMURA, professor and former dean of the school: “Social workers are passionate in their dedication to making waves and moving mountains on behalf of people and communities. There is a range of approaches and specializations within our profession, but the shared goal is ultimately to change or transform lives.”

Woman in library holding books on her head

JANE WALDFOGEL, Compton Foundation Centennial Professor of Social Work for the Prevention of Children’s and Youth Problems: “One of the great things about Columbia is how broad our definition of social work is. Many are doing clinical social work, while others are working at the organizational level. And still others are working in social policy—a long and distinguished tradition within social work.”

Man smiling laughing into the distance

ZHANJIE SI (MSW’09): “Social work is about how to help people. It’s not so easy to help someone, even if you have the best of intentions. I wanted to study social work so I could better serve people.”

Out of the Classroom and Into the World

Stories from the Field

In this video, Michele Gehr (MSW ’15) tells us about how she made a difference during her second-year field placement.


“I was placed in the South Bronx last year, at one of the toughest schools in the country.”

“It was an intimidating prospect.”

“When I got there, I recognized it was about relationships.”

“By the time I was done we had increased attendance by 85 percent.”


Career Stories

Sasha Diamond-Lenow (MS ’09) was one of our Advanced Standing students. As she explains in this video, not only did she complete her MSW in one year, but she fell into her dream job combining sports (squash) with social work in an innovative way.


“I was able to get an advanced degree from Columbia in one year.”

“I knew I wanted to work in a community program, with kids.”

“In grad school, I interned at Sports for Gender Equity, which was using sports to empower girls. And I knew, this was it. Then I found Street Squash.”

“Schools in Harlem don’t have a consistent athletic component.”