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First-Generation College Student Earns BSW & MSW, Heads Into School Social Work Career

“I didn’t choose Seton Hill,” says social work grad Jimiesha Thomas says, “it chose me.”

As no one in Jimiesha’s family had attended college, “it was a surprise to my mom that I even applied.” In the region where she grew up, “people often talk about how you’re incapable of moving forward or gaining success.” 

While Seton Hill was the fourth college to accept Jimiesha, “it was the first to really take an interest in me….I am forever grateful.” 

Jimiesha came to Seton Hill as a biology major, with plans to enter the Physician Assistant Program.

“I could always get in contact with my professors, the assignments were all aimed at real life/real world experience, and it was just a family atmosphere."

“After taking one biology course,” she says, laughing, “I learned I may have another calling in life.”

Seton Hill’s Career and Professional Development Center works with all first-year students to help them choose majors, and career paths, that suit their goals.

“They gave us this aptitude test that took all of your likes and dislikes, skills, abilities and interests into account,” Jimiesha says. “My outcome came out social work/sociology.” 

At Jimiesha’s request, her faculty advisor put her in touch with Dr. David Droppa, Director of the Social Work Program.

“I always tell people that Dr. Droppa and I had a 30 minute conversation that  turned into a 2 hour conversation and I was SOLD! Meet Jimiesha, the new social work major!”

Jimiesha took to social work right away.

“I got all the attention and assistance I needed when it was needed,” she says. “I could always get in contact with my professors, the assignments were all aimed at real life/real world experience, and it was just a family atmosphere. I learned so much about myself while I was furthering my education.”

Jimiesha particularly appreciated the “togetherness and closeness” of the program. One incident in particular stands out in her memory. 

Jimiesha With Diploma in Front of Fountain in Pittsburgh“My brother passed away unexpectedly around Thanksgiving. Returning back to school after break was very hard for me…. I was present but my mind and heart were not.” 

Dr. Droppa and her social work classmates noticed.

“They took the time to say, we are sorry for your loss and so sorry you have to deal with this just after losing your father,” Jimiesha says. “My ladies presented me with a locket of my brother! His picture and his name are engraved. The most amazing thing that anyone has done for me!”

Jimiesha graduated from Seton Hill in 2016 with a Bachelor of Social Work. She continued her education at Edinboro University, graduating with her Master of Social Work in 2019.  

“I did the advanced standing program which was made possible due to Seton Hill’s Social Work Program being accredited,” Jimiesha says. “It took 15 months and the entire program was online, excluding my internship.”

Jimiesha works as a case manager and is looking forward to earning her licensed social worker (LSW) and licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) credentials. She wants to continue doing school social work, and hopes to “work for or create my own private practice for therapy aimed towards childhood trauma, anger, grief and bereavement counseling.”

She has a special message for current and future Seton Hill students: “Go be the best Griffin you can be and watch it change your life!”