MSW program seeks to fill need in CENLA for graduate level social workers

By Sierra Boudreaux, Wildcats Media

Service to others comes in many forms. Allison Dean thought her journey would include being a pastry chef and nourishing the appetites of customers. Instead, her love for her grandmother fed her own soul and led her down a completely different pathway.

When Dean didn’t get accepted into the pastry school in New York she dreamed of attending, she found another passion. Helping to care for her grandmother, who suffered from dementia before she died, reminded her how passionate and loving her caretakers had been.

She decided on social work and became the first member of her family to finish college when she completed her bachelor’s degree in 2014.

Over the years since, Dean has realized she has a calling to work with older people, and she decided to return and earn her master’s degree in social work shortly after the program began at LCU.

Dean said she knew she could earn more and provide for a family more by earning a graduate degree and one day open her own day center to care for older people.

“I love being at LCU,” she said. “My favorite part is the community and sense of family with the professors and classmates.”

Dean earned her MSW degree in December 2020 from LCU.

“The purpose of the College’s MSW program from its inception has been to apply the Heart of Christ to the Hurt of Humanity,” said President Rick Brewer. “Indeed, Allison Dean is emblematic of the graduates of our program ably led by academic scholars and Christ-centered servants.”

Louisiana Christian University’s Master of Social Work program is one of the newest degrees at the school, and despite the challenges brought by COVID-19 this year, it is growing and filling a unique need in the community.

“God is making it possible,” said Sheri Duffy on being able to get the master’s program started. Duffy is the MSW program director.

Vanessa Graves, field director of the Master of Social Work program, said she saw how beneficial the MSW program would be for the communities of CENLA. So, in 2017, the process to create the MSW program was started. It was a joint effort among Duffy, LCU administrators and The Rapides Foundation.

“The need for the MSW in the area was great,” Duffy said. Having the program at LCU had been a long-time dream of hers, having served first as director of the BSW program. The program has grown significantly and has already graduated two cohorts of students.

The Rapides Foundation recognized the significant need for master level social workers and gave LCU a grant to start the program.

Louisiana Christian University’s mission for the Master of Social Work program is to prepare students to function competently and effectively in a rapidly changing world through an academically challenging social work education within a Christian environment that offers integration of faith and learning. The MSW also includes a healthcare/behavioral health concentration.

Graves said this year has brought on even greater needs and challenges due to COVID-19, and students have learned to be quickly adaptable to new ways of treating and interacting with patients in varied settings.

For more information about the MSW program at LCU, visit the college website at or email