“Growing up in Findlay, the University was in my backyard, but my eyes were opened when I became a student. I took classes like philosophy and art, and met all kinds of different people,” said alumna Heidi Mercer. “UF opened the box for me – to travel, meet new people and learn new cultures.”
Mercer graduated from The University of Findlay in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in social work. After spending one year in California as an AmeriCorps volunteer and working on several other projects, Mercer completed an intensive one-year program at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) to earn a master’s degree in social work in 2008.
The University has an agreement with CWRU that allows social work graduates to enter into an advanced master’s program; the program normally is a two-year program.
Mercer quickly decided to continue her career overseas in the United Kingdom in 2009. A resident of Eastbourne in East Sussex County, Mercer works for East Sussex County Counsel Children’s Services where she does risk assessments for children and families.
“I like working with the kids,” who range in age from 5 to 19, said Mercer. “They can change their risky behaviors with the right amount of support, and if I can help curb those behaviors and help families, it’s less likely those kids will be in trouble later.”
“Everything is different – the licensing, the vocabulary, everything,” said Mercer of how social work in the U.S. compares to social work in the UK. “The University of Findlay set me up with a good base level of knowledge, and my education gave me a structure and a desire to learn more.”
While working overseas, Mercer not only is maintaining a license in the UK but also in the U.S. so that when she decides to return, she’ll be ready to continue her social work career. She meets professional development and credit hour requirements by attending training sessions for professionals and also attending classes at a university in the UK.
Another part of her job that she enjoys is mentoring college students, just like she completed internships when she was a student at Findlay. Mercer works as part of a small team of three individuals who share in the responsibility of teaching the next generation of social workers what the profession is all about.
Additionally, when Mercer is visiting the U.S., she often will return to Findlay to visit classes and share her experiences. “I especially like to encourage seniors who are in their final internship and wondering if they can really succeed as professionals in the field,” she said.
“It’s always good to come back and see what the University is doing,” said Mercer. “That’s what makes me proud to be an alum. It’s a university that is progressing and taking hold of opportunities to advance students.”