Experiential learning was key to my success

By Alexa Ganzeveld ’22

Daniel Grosser ’11 changed his major four times before discovering his love for social work, but once he decided on a direction, he was able to focus his passions through experiential learning opportunities that are a required piece of the curriculum.   

“Wartburg provided me with opportunities that I didn’t even know were there. I think during my sophomore year when I decided to stick with the social work program with a criminal justice emphasis, my professors were able to find experiential opportunities that helped me reach that goal,” said Grosser, who is both a probation officer in the First Judicial District of the Department of Correctional Services and a mental health counselor at Black Hawk-Grundy Mental Health. “What I envisioned as a social worker was not at all what it is or what it can be. Not everybody works at the Department of Human Services or is working with children.”

During his junior year, while working at the Lutheran Services in Iowa Bremwood Campus in Waverly, Grosser realized he wasn’t only interested in criminal justice but also youth mental health services.

“Experimental learning was key to my success at Wartburg. I really liked how I was forced to be in some uncomfortable situations and get out of my comfort zone. That meant I was getting out of the classroom and learning the skills to be able to communicate with people, actively listen to them, and then document the conversations I had, some of those case management basics I still use,” Grosser said.

Daniel Grosser

Two weeks after graduating from Wartburg, Grosser began working toward a master’s degree in clinical social work at the University of Northern Iowa.

“Grad school was easier, or it was a smoother transition, because of how rigorous Wartburg was. It was very clear to me very quickly that not all the other students, wherever they went to get their bachelor’s degree, were as prepared. Grad school was very writing intensive and there were expectations that you had to meet to be successful, and some of the individuals in class didn’t have that experience,” Grosser said.

Grosser, who also has worked as a residential officer and family counselor, said he learned so much about himself and what he was capable of during his experiential learning opportunities.  

“Get out there, push yourself, and continue to work towards your goals, but be open to different ways of doing that.”