Q&A with BSW Intern of the Year, Lauren Daniels
1. Tell us a little about yourself including where you are from?
I grew up in Wisconsin until moving to Prosper, TX my senior year of high school. This then led me to Waco to attend Baylor University, and I hope to stay in Waco for the foreseeable future. Because of the places I’ve lived and traveled, I have always loved to be outdoors. Whether I am sitting on my porch or exploring new places, any chance I get I love to be outside soaking up the sun and fresh air. During my time at Baylor, a lot of my time has been spent on staff at my Church in Waco as the College Girls Associate. When I am not there, at class, or at internship, I love to spend time with my friends. I enjoy playing games, hanging out at coffee shops, watching movies, and doing any other spontaneous things my friends come up with. I also love to travel because I get to experience new places, meet people from around the world, and learn about different cultures.
2. When did you begin classes at Baylor? Why did you choose Baylor social work?
I began my undergraduate education in August 2019 and am graduating with my BSW in May 2023. Coming into college, I was unsure of what my path would be. I’ve always desired to serve others and be quick to offer a helping hand. Being observant and feeling a strong sense of empathy for those around me, I knew I was supposed to work with people. Because of that, I considered careers in the education or healthcare fields. However, once I began to realize the depths of layers behind those systems, barriers to access, and ways individuals and communities are impacted in those fields, I realized there was so much more. I was first exposed to social work by being involved in the world of adoption and foster care. After learning there was so much more to social work than CPS and seeing the opportunity to relationally partner with others and offer support by serving and empowering others, it didn’t take long to realize social work was the path for me. Additionally, my faith is the reason I do what I do, and I sought out Baylor for its faith-based education. Learning of the Garland School of Social Work’s dedication to ethical integration of faith and practice in all layers of service and practice further solidified my choice of Baylor and pursuit of a social work career.
3. Why did you choose social work? Would you say social work is your “calling”? If so, why?
My calling is to serve and support the people around me. Because of the strong emphasis to look at more than what seems to be at the surface, I know social work is the avenue for me to support, advocate for, and serve others. By equipping me with the skills to identify the layers on the individual, community, and system levels, social work offers the opportunity to advocate for change and empower others. Having continuous opportunities for learning, one of the many reasons I love social work is for the holistic approach it takes and through that how transferable the skills are. The more I gain experience academically and in practice, not only am I sure social work is the path for me, but I am proud to be a developing social worker.
4. Do you have a minor or concentration/specialization?
I minored in religion.
5. Are you involved in any organizations at Baylor?
For most of my time at Baylor, I have not been very involved in on-campus organizations. For me, it was important to be invested in the greater Waco community, which I primarily did through my church.
6. Tell us what you are passionate about. Do you have any populations you enjoy working with or would like to?
I am passionate about working with children and families across a wide range of settings. I am passionate about connecting the dots in client systems to empower them to navigate the complexity of their developing lives so that they may thrive. I have greatly valued my experience working with a community-based organization in the education system, and I am eager to learn in other settings to ethically and effectively work alongside children and families.
7. Tell us about your internship/s, and what you have enjoyed about them (or learned from them).
This year, I had the privilege to intern with Communities In Schools in the Heart of Texas (CIS) at Kendrick Elementary. Seeing the strengths of clients and the Kendrick community has deeply inspired me. Through this internship, I have been learning how to serve clients in complex multi-tiered systems while navigating the layers of policies and ever-changing environments. I have loved being in a setting that changes every day and always keeps you on your toes. While working with multi-disciplinary teams and providing support and resources across a wide range of services from academic to behavioral, I have been pushed to practice the holistic perspective social work equips us for. I have learned to be flexible and creative while working with young client populations and continue to be inspired by the formation of these resilient individuals. I have been blessed to have the most amazing supervisor, Davia LeBlanc, who has played a major role in my learning and success in internship. By welcoming my questions and bringing me alongside her practice, she has empowered me to engage with diversity, advocate for clients, and work toward effective change. I have been forever changed by my time spent with CIS at Kendrick Elementary and am grateful to have worked alongside so many incredible people.
8. What does this award mean to you?
This award is truly a shock and an honor. So many people are more than well-deserving of this award, and I am honored that my supervisors and professors saw me as someone who ethically practices with excellence. This award further affirms a path of social work and excites me for further opportunities to serve others and advocate for change. I am beyond grateful to be receiving this award and indebted to the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work, the professors and supervisors who have invested in me, and the community who have inspired and encouraged me on this path.
9. What are your plans after graduation?
I plan to continue my education at Baylor to earn my MSW with a clinical specialization. I hope one day to be an LCSW.
10. Any advice for those coming after you?
My advice to those coming after me is to be all in, even if your next step seems unexpected. For me, I didn’t expect to be in a school setting for my BSW internship and was unsure if that would be the place for me. But because of the community found in the Garland School of Social Work, the way professors encouraged and challenged me, and the way my supervisor empowered me to engage in learning and practice, now I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. So, be all in. Take this opportunity to learn from the expertise of the professors and community around you. Lean into the chance to learn in the uncomfortable and engage with new people, places, and communities – you never know what it could turn into.
What others say about Lauren:
"Lauren exhibits very high levels of proficiency in connecting academic content to practice. She is a self-starter, showing initiative in her work at CIS. Lauren has developed and maintained strong working relationships with her supervisor, colleagues & clients in the placement this year. She produced an unmatched field evaluation in the fall and I expect to see a similar level of professional work from her for the spring evaluation. Lauren is a critical thinker and implements best practices in internship. She represents the GSSW and the profession well in her practice endeavors.
“Throughout the entire school year, Lauren has presented herself as a learner and leads from the heart. I have had the opportunity to watch her confidence grow through her ability of asking meaningful questions, having a desire to engage in holistic experiences, and utilizing the work she has done in her internship placement to inform her work in class and in her future practice. Lauren is humble, self-aware, and has a strong desire to serve. I am confident that she will be an amazing asset to the social work field.”