April 26, 2021

Social Work graduate entering profession that provided help during her time of need

Kristina Sawdon remembers the excitement of receiving her School of Social Work acceptance letter and wondering what her new role as a full-time student may offer.

During that summer of 2019, as the first semester got underway, she quickly learned what change and challenges really mean.

Kristina Sawdon

“In my first semester, my son — and only child — left for the United States Navy. Also, at that time, my sister needed a place to live with her husband and four children, so I offered to let them rent my home. My brother had just moved to Michigan from Louisiana and had no vehicle, so I gave him my van. I said goodbye to my son, gave my vehicle away and moved out of my home all in the same weekend. Frankly, I don’t know how I am doing it, but I just keep moving forward,” Sawdon said.

The 46-year-old’s journey with the School of Social Work had actually begun in 2014, when she decided to begin the application process, but Sawdon soon decided she wasn’t ready for the journey. “I was just coming out of a 15-year abusive relationship and knew that the time wasn’t right for me.”

Looking back, Sawdon said she never would have believed that she is entering the same field that she relied on during her abuse. “I have worked on myself during this process and have met so many amazing friends and future colleagues along the way. Every day, I must continue to work on myself, but there is one thing I am sure about — social work is my calling.”

The first college graduate in her family, Sawdon will receive her bachelor’s of social work on May 5 during the university’s virtual commencement ceremonies.

Highlighting her experience at Wayne State, Sawdon said she’s enjoyed many positive experiences as a student, and learned much about flexibility. “I’ve established lifelong friendships along the way that I will always treasure. And, I have had some amazing instructors. We’ve all learned together about being flexible during the COVID-19 pandemic – in the classroom, at work, and at our homes. It has been an experience that we’ll never forget.”

Sawdon, a Port Huron resident, has been accepted to Wayne State’s Advanced Placement M.S.W. program and will begin classes this spring/summer semester. She also plans to receive certification in school social work as well as outpatient mental health and substance abuse therapy. Eventually, Sawdon hopes to work for St. Clair County Community Mental Health as a clinician. “I’m hoping to have my school social work certification in my back pocket, as a backup plan.”

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