Northwestern’s Department of Social Work Celebrating Social Work Month

March 9, 2023

Social Work Month 2023
Northwestern Oklahoma State University’s Department of Social Work is helping celebrate this year’s Social Work Month in March with the theme “Social Work Breaks Barriers.” (Left to right) Dr. Kylene Rehder, Mattie Gore, Kyra Hussey, Jenna Maier, Bishop Buck, Charmayne Marshall, Harlie Altland, Laney Anderson, Samuel Felton and Allysa Donaldson.

Northwestern Oklahoma State University’s Department of Social Work is helping celebrate this year’s Social Work Month in March with the theme “Social Work Breaks Barriers” to highlight how social workers have enriched our society by empowering people and communities to overcome hurdles that prevent them from living life to the fullest.

The annual Social Work Month campaign is a time to inform the public, policymakers, and legislators about how social workers have always broken barriers when it comes to the services they provide in an array of sectors, including hospitals and mental health centers, federal, state and local government, schools, community centers, and social service agencies. People become social workers because they have a strong desire to help others and make society a better place.

Social work is one of the fastest-growing professions in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  More than 700,000 professional social workers are hard at work nationwide, but that number is expected to rise to more than 800,000 by 2030, BLS said.

The theme “Social Work Breaks Barriers” resonates because social workers are on the frontlines helping individuals overcome a myriad of challenges, including economic inequality, reproductive rights, racism, and natural disasters worsened by global warming. Social workers nationwide entered the profession because they have a strong desire to assist those in need and make communities, the nation, and the world a better place for all.

“Each day social workers break barriers in a plethora of innovative ways that help millions of Americans live their best lives,” said Dr. Kylene Rehder, professor of social work and chair of the department of social work. “During Social Work Month, we urge you to educate yourselves about this amazing profession, thank social workers, and help support the profession.”

For generations, social workers have broken barriers to help people live better lives, and they continue to break barriers by empowering people in tough situations. The profession can trace a large part of its origins to Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Star, who in 1889 opened Hull House in Chicago to provide social services to the area, which had a large immigrant population.

Social workers have helped drive significant, positive changes. For example, Frances Perkins, the first female Labor Secretary during the Great Depression, and others helped secure benefits still used today, such as the 40-hour work week, minimum wage, and Social Security benefits. Chances are throughout one’s lifetime, a family member or a friend have been helped by a social worker.

These helping professionals work everywhere including hospitals, mental health care facilities, child welfare agencies, schools, veteran centers, and in local, state and federal government. Many are in Congress or state or local government, who work to ensure the government uplifts the most vulnerable in society.

Social workers were at the forefront of the global Covid-19 pandemic. When most were quarantined at home, social workers were out in their communities—making sure children and at-risk youth were attending classes over Zoom, providing food and other resources to the elderly, helping those with substance-use disorder get the help they needed to stay sober, and helping many people stay connected to loved ones quarantined in nursing homes or at hospitals.

For more information about Northwestern’s social work program, visit or contact Rehder at (580) 327-8135 or


Erin Davis, University Relations Specialist, 580-327-8480

Northwestern Oklahoma State University

709 Oklahoma Blvd., Alva, OK 73717
Phone: (580) 327-1700

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