Wartburg helped me shine a spotlight on others in need

By Sophie Kongable ’21, Lauren Wisdom ’21, Ryan Reebenacker ’21

Megan Malaski ’20 has been passionate about social justice issues and social change since the age of 15 but didn’t realize her passion lay in social work until she began exploring colleges and universities.

Malaski, who is enthusiastic about issues like food security, immigration, the LGBTQ community, and advocating for those who don’t have a voice, said Wartburg social work major is special because of the many hands-on opportunities, including field experiences in the Waverly-Shell Rock area and beyond.

“Wartburg’s social work department is probably one of the best in the state of Iowa,” Malaski said. “The field experience opportunities we have are much more attractive and educational, and the hands-on learning in the field is not offered at any other school to my knowledge.”

Malaski has worked with the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, or WIC, at Operation Threshold. There she contributed to the nonprofit’s goal to help women and children secure necessities and provided in-home educational services for non-English-speaking students.

She also traveled to Australia through the college’s unique Diers Program to work with Lutheran Care Company, an organization that focuses on domestic violence and homelessness. The Diers Program offers complete cultural immersion in a nontraditional setting where students can undertake independent study and/or research. Malaski knows these experiences were crucial to her development as a student and one of the many ways that Wartburg is worth it.

Megan Malaski
Megan Malaski (Photo by Sophie Kongable ’21)

The Lindstrom, Minn., native also has worked with Retrieving Freedom, a Waverly nonprofit dedicated to training service dogs for veterans and children with autism.

“We were the first department to actually set that up and work directly with veterans and children receiving the dogs,” Malaski said. “Now it’s moving into other majors and minors, like leadership.”

Malaski, who is also the secretary for Wartburg Players, a student-run theatre group, is the director of this year’s fall play. She chose a play called The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, about a child with Asperger’s syndrome and the different perspectives of the characters’ lives. Malaski feels that combining her passion for social work with her other activities on campus is a unique opportunity.

She will graduate from Wartburg this spring knowing she has made an impact on the campus and the community and hopes that her calling in her field will have an impact on the world around her.

“Social work is helping people help themselves,” Malaski said. “So, I’m not talking for someone. I’m not saying these people are being discriminated against or this person needs this service. I’m helping them find what they are lacking in themselves. I’m helping them bring out their strengths, and I’m helping them find who they want to be and give that to the world and contribute to that.”