College fills growing demand for human services professionals
It can be a difficult job, but those who choose to enter professions helping people to help themselves know the rewards are boundless.
That’s what professors like Judith Antinarella hope to impress upon students who choose human services as their degree concentration. The intrinsic rewards are without question, Antinarella said, and career opportunities abound as well.
In the coming years, the state will need several hundred more substance abuse counselors, social workers and social service specialist workers, according to the Agency for Workforce Innovation’s Labor Market Statistics report.
To help students prepare for these careers, the faculty at Miami Dade College created a course of study that combines the theory of the class-room with hands-on human interactions.
Whether pursuing the Associate in Science degree in general human services or the more specialized addiction studies track, students are taught a broad range of behavioral and social sciences, including psychology, sociology, political science and human relations, among others.
The goal, said Antinarella, is to “prepare students for the workplace while providing them with knowledge about human behavior that is relevant to any career and to everyday life.”
Class assignments range from visits to human services agencies for research purposes to listening to lectures from speakers representing addiction treatment services. Service learning is also a major component of the curriculum.
Over the years, students have volunteered at a number of local agencies, including the Miami Rescue Mission, the Salvation Army, Camillus House, the Village South, St. Luke's Addiction Recovery and others.
As a result of the field experience, many MDC students have so impressed potential employers with their training and motivation that they are offered entry-level jobs upon graduation.
“Our addiction studies program is well-known by local agencies and professionals in the field of substance abuse treatment,” Antinarella added. “You will find graduates of our program employed at most of the major treatment facilities in Miami-Dade County.”
Many students discover that they want the opportunity to continue their education and often go on to major in social work, human services or psychology.
— Barbara Bickel and Gariot P. Louima
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