Article by Ava Marante

Dependable, open to change, and trustworthy are only some of the many great qualities of first-generation social worker Ashia Winston. “I’ve always known I’ve had a passion for helping others… I have always wanted to be in the community helping,” said Winston.

Miss. Winston was born and raised in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, near The University of Alabama campus. Being so close to where she grew up, choosing to pursue a master’s degree in social work at The University of Alabama was an obvious choice for her. As a Distance Learner, Ashia Winston is now completing her third year in UA’s master’s in social work (MSW) program as well as being a part of the Elephant Plan.

“My favorite thing about being a student within the school of social work is the loving environment. I am a distance learner, so I am not able to attend on-campus events. All though I am a distant learner, I feel like I have had so many different opportunities. For instance, last year, I served as a Secretary of the Graduate Social Work Organization, and this year I am the president of it. I have been able to get to know a bunch of faculty and staff within the social work program and attend conferences,” said Ms. Winston.

With Ms. Winston’s Master’s degree, she chose a concentration in Social Work with Children, Adolescents, and Their Families. Having recognized throughout her social work journey that she has a special interest in mental health, she currently holds the position of Mental Health Services Coordinator at University Charter School in Livingston, AL.

She noted that one of her courses this past semester, Models and Methods of Social Work Practice with Children in Adolescence in Mental Health, has been most impactful to her. Through her professor and course textbook, they both have given her the resources to apply the various tactics and strategies to her students at The University Charter School.

Upon graduating, Ashia Winston wants to give back to the rural community and provide mental health services as an in-town therapist. She stated that the therapist within her charter school covers three different schools in her community, and she would love to assist her in helping those students with their mental health. Furthermore, she also hopes to become a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LI CSW) to open a practice of her own.

What drives Winston’s aspiration to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LI CSW) is to advocate and be the voice for the children and adolescents that do not have one. She shared that growing up, she did not have access to a social worker and has seen the impact through her role on what having the right resources can do for a child.

Winston shared, “I am a first-generation social worker, and I hope to bring about change. I know I can’t bring change to the whole world because I am only one person, but I hope to bring about a positive impact in the community, such as social justice and social equality. I just want to bring about a positive change for everyone.”