Senior practicum led to full-time career

NAME: Kristi Shannon
MAJOR: Social work
CURRENT EMPLOYMENT: Director of quality management, Northeast Iowa Area Agency on Aging

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE WARTBURG: I chose Wartburg because I like the Waverly community, and Wartburg was also close to home. The social work department is the primary reason that I chose to go to Wartburg. Knowing the status of the department, how long the department had been accredited, it all really stood out to me when looking at different opportunities across the state. Wartburg seemed like a good place to call home and to get one of the best educations around with the social work major that I was interested in.

HOW DID YOU DECIDE ON YOUR MAJOR: I chose to study social work after watching my family caring for individuals in our family who were aging. Early on, not knowing much about Alzheimer’s and watching a loved one go through that, drew me into wanting to help with the elderly. After looking at different opportunities, social work was where I was able to pursue that passion. I wanted to be able to keep individuals safe in their homes as they’re aging or going through some health issues, as opposed to an institutional setting. Looking at the option of community social work was really intriguing to me as a way to help individuals and get them to where they want to be.


Kristi Shannon

WHAT HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE DID YOU HAVE AT WARTBURG: While I was at Wartburg, we were offered a beginning field placement, an intermediate placement, and our senior year practicum that we could extend into another May Term for extended placement. I took advantage of all four of those. Even though I had a passion for the elderly, I also wanted to check out different options. My freshman year beginning field placement I interned at an agency with children and quickly learned that it wasn’t something I wanted to pursue. My sophomore year I took the intermediate field placement, which was a program that served high schoolers and ruled that out very quickly. The internships were both great experiences, but I knew that my passion just didn’t lie there. I started an internship at Hawkeye Valley Area Agency on Aging during my senior year for practicum. I am still with that agency today. Our name has changed, as we did a merger with a couple other agencies on aging, but I found my passion right there. The organization was exactly what I was looking for, which was helping individuals stay in their homes as they’re aging. I’ve been here now for almost 20 years. I was hired partway through my internship and just have had lots of fabulous opportunities because of it.

WHAT DO YOU DO NOW: I am the director of quality management. I’m working very closely with our program directors and writing policy to ensure our agency is doing what we need to do to ensure our funding so that our programs continue. I also oversee our quality management, which includes looking at our programs, how can we continually improve our services for our consumers, and enhance what they receive from us. I also do a little bit with tracking some of our contracts and other programs.

HOW DID THE WARTBURG SOCIAL WORK PROGRAM HELP YOU SUCCEED: From day one, the social work program always encourages you to find your passion and keep growing. They prepared us to branch out and look at everything from diversity to policy writing. The social work department was also always there with support, encouragement, and experiential opportunities. Wartburg really did a good job of preparing us on how to connect the theories and what we learned in class to that practicum. Being able to also have all those hours of shadowing to start with, and then to do the senior year placement with a lot of hands-on practice, is what really prepared me for my career in social work.

WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE CLASS: Both classes were in the social work department. There was Social Gerontology, which really solidified my passion for serving the elderly, and then the social policy class within social work. I never thought I’d be interested in policy, the political aspect of it, but that class brought my passion forward for that.

WHY IS WARTBURG WORTH IT: I attribute my professional career as a social worker to Wartburg and do not feel I would have been as prepared for my career without Wartburg.