"This scholarship allowed me to pursue my ambitions in social work research and administrative practice. I feel well prepared and excited to advance my career in the social services."
During her second year in the UChicago College, Andrea Haidar heard about SSA's five year AB/AM program through some of her upperclass peers. Once she learned more about the program, she realized it would be an ideal way to combine her academic and career goals. "I felt ready to advance my understanding of social issues and take my direct service experience to the next level," says Haidar. "I chose SSA specifically because I knew the curriculum and field experience would allow me to explore both administrative and clinical aspects of social work practice."
As a sociology major who also carried a heavy course load in Arabic, Haidar already had a number of direct service placements through the University Community Service Center and the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights as a counselor at the South Chicago Art Center and as a coordinator for a program supporting Arab American youth in Dearborn, MI, home to the largest concentration of Arab Americans in the US. Having those experiences, Haidar says, sealed her commitment to a career in social services.
Haidar concentrated her studies in social administration and also enrolled in the violence prevention program of study. Her coursework focused on research and evaluation methods because she is convinced they can transform the impact of programs and client services and make the biggest difference in the lives of individuals. She also served as co-editor of Advocates' Forum, SSA's student-run social work journal.
Through her second year field placement at Youth Guidance, Haidar worked with the research and evaluation team to provide quality information about the agency's school-based programs for at-risk children. The team works continuously to promote evidence-based practice that will improve the quality of Chicago Public School youth programs, including the highly successful Becoming a Man mentoring initiative, which was evaluated by the UChicago Crime Lab, co-founded by Jens Ludwig, the McCormick Foundation Professor of Social Service Administration, Law and Public Policy, and Harold Pollack, the Helen Ross Professor. Haidar served specifically as an evaluation liaison for Youth Guidance's Project Prepare, a youth workforce development program. After only a few weeks of experience Haidar said, "I can tell that I will learn a great deal about data analysis, program development, and communicating research findings to diverse stakeholders."
"Ultimately, I would like to direct my own research projects in the fields of youth violence prevention and international social welfare," she says.