Hayley Bowler with other graduates

Meet Hayley Bowler ’15, Social Work

Being from St. Charles, Missouri, I did not want to go too far away from home for college. I also wanted that small school feeling where I was not just another number. Growing up I always knew I wanted to do Social Work, which led me to finding William Woods University. I visited my junior year of high school and met with the Social Work professors, Elizabeth Wilson and George Garner. On following visits, they remembered me and that really made a difference in making me feel at home coming to William Woods.

My interest in Social Work started when I was young. I was always very involved in volunteer work and it stemmed from that. I wanted a career where I could give back for the rest of my life, and Social Work allows me to do just that. It seemed like a great opportunity and even when I was volunteering, I met a lot of social workers who were helping with the same projects.

Chi Omega Social

Finding connections at William Woods
I was in the Social Work Club at William Woods, in Chi Omega, and manager of the women’s soccer team. Through these organizations I made a lot of connections that have helped me since graduating. For example, I found my first practicum assignment during graduate school through my connection with Chi Omega at a children’s hospital.

We have a big group of St. Louis Chi Omega’s that still get together once a month and go to dinner or go out together. We also have a wedding every now and then. We also plan trips to visit with sisters who are farther away now.

Chi Omega social with a fraternity

A great education
I really loved that, at William Woods, I was able to start with Social Work classes right away during my first semester. It helped keep me interested in my major throughout college and prepared me right off the bat. The general education classes also helped me grow as a student and prepared me for my career. I am still using everything I learned at William Woods in my career today.

During the fall of 2015 I started my master’s program at St. Louis University. The Social Work program at William Woods prepared me for that so completely. I went in and already had a great foundation to build off of. I furthered my skills in that program and found my job right after.

Career in a hospital
I found my first job immediately after graduating with my master’s. It was a great blessing and helped me build my skills in a level one trauma center. It was still a fairly small atmosphere at St. Louis University Hospital, so I had a lot of help and hands-on work that really helped me grow. It was a great opportunity for a first job and it was great to learn from them.

I still work at St. Louis University Hospital in a different role. Being a level one trauma center, we really work with the most critical patients. William Woods and St. Louis University really helped prepare me for this role. I am helping families that are experiencing great loss, doing crisis intervention, discharge planning, and mostly being there for individuals who are there at their sickest. I am blessed to have this job and be able to help these families.

Looking back
I would have to say that William Woods truly built a fundamental understanding for me of what Social Work really is. It also taught me how to connect with people – William Woods’ unique size and atmosphere was a great place to learn communications and people skills.

I would tell current students to continue to follow their passions. It’s okay if your first job is not your dream career. You can build on that foundation and continue in your career as long as you keep your passion at the forefront.