Her passion for helping families finds a home at school

Britney Morrow
Degree: Master of Social Work, Helen Bader School of Social Welfare
Hometown: Milwaukee
It’s a fact: “While studying in Austria, I attended a birthday party. I knew one thing I definitely remembered from German Immersion School was how to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ in German. But when the song started, everybody else sang in English – as is customary there. Laughter all around!”

The path leading Britney Morrow to “what I really want to do professionally” and her master’s degree in social work has been a winding one.

A Milwaukee native, she attended Milwaukee German Immersion School and then Milwaukee High School of the Arts for violin study. When she discontinued music studies, she moved on to Bradley Tech High School. After graduation, Morrow spent freshman year at Clark College in Atlanta.

The economic realities of a private college sent her to UW-Whitewater and then back home to Milwaukee. Morrow enrolled at UWM, graduating in educational policy and community studies in December 2002. “I thought I wanted to teach, but after my first teaching experience I found that wasn’t the case. I loved working with kids, but didn’t like being a classroom teacher.”

Still on course for teaching, she enrolled part-time at Cardinal Stritch University for coursework that would lead to teacher certification. At the same time, she began working part-time for Professional Services Group, a supervisory agency for children in foster care. “That’s where my social work journey began,” says Morrow.

Her job: To ferry children from their foster homes to visitations with their biological family, and observe and document the visits. She submitted her reports to the appropriate caseworker and case manager.

“I loved what I was doing,” she now says,  “and decided to look into social work as a career.”

Morrow’s talent for working with children and families was recognized with a promotion to supervisor of visitation (still part time). All the while she was also working full time as a special education resource teacher – an experience that confirmed teaching was “not a good fit” for her.

“I decided to apply and was accepted for the social work master’s degree program at UWM, nearly 10 years after earning my undergraduate degree there. And this time, the journey was amazing.”

Morrow says she discovered the difference between studying what you think you want to do and exploring what you actually have a passion for. “This time around, I enjoyed going and being in class, participated in discussions – and my grades improved dramatically.”

She sees the campus as being a very different environment from ten years ago. Morrow applauds campus leadership for the changes that have been made and are still ongoing. “Today, you can have the experience of true campus living at UWM.”

Working part time as a substitute school social worker since February, Morrow is back in a school setting. But this time, she is thriving. “I love working with kids and families, and always knew I wanted to work in a school, but couldn’t figure out in what capacity. The social work piece brought it all together.”

Morrow hopes to be hired full time as a school social worker after passing the required certification exam and submitting her portfolio. While her work so far has been on the elementary school level at Alexander Mitchell Integrated Arts School and Elm Creative Arts, Morrow may take a leap into working at the high school level.
“I’d love to act as a mentor for teens and encourage students to keep their grades up and see themselves going to college and studying abroad like I did.”