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Class of 2024: Amber Chenoweth

A nontraditional student, Social Work major Amber Chenoweth transferred to McDaniel in their 30s to open a new career path. They gained crucial experience interning at Sheppard Pratt and joining the Maryland Student Legislature. After Commencement, Amber will continue to pursue their passion for macro social work through graduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work.

A student sits with a laptop on their lap and their feet up in front of them. The soles of their shoes are rainbow-striped.

Amber Chenoweth is a Social Work major with a minor in Psychology from Westminster, Maryland.

When I took my first step on the Hill, I was: In my 30s, transferring from Carroll Community College and looking to establish my future career as a social worker. I came to McDaniel with vast experiences to share with my cohort and ready to act as a mentor in both the professional and personal aspects of college life.

The me who will ring the Old Main bell on Commencement Day is: Ready to take on the challenges of changing my career path and getting new meaning out of life. I started college at 29 years old after deciding to switch my career out of service industry management after the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve learned a lot about myself and my field while at McDaniel and am prepared to handle these new challenges.

Real-world experiences: My senior internship was with Frederick County Residential Crisis Services (RCS) at Sheppard Pratt, where I worked in tandem with the treatment coordinator to help facilitate assessments, treatment planning, and case management for our clients. I also had the opportunity to attend Common Ground on the Border during Jan Term, where we learned about the process of seeking asylum in the U.S., the state of the Border Patrol, and took trips into Mexico to see the conditions refugees lived in while awaiting their asylum decisions.

My aha moment: I came to McDaniel with the intent to focus on clinical social work. After becoming part of the Maryland Student Legislature (MSL), I gained a new passion for macro social work. I love being a part of the legislative process and advocating for greater change. During my senior year, I served as secretary of state for the MSL after being elected during the 2023 Annual Legislative Session in Annapolis, Maryland.

Footprints I’m leaving on the Hill: I would like to be remembered for establishing a more solid connection between the Social Work Department and the MSL. When I first joined, I was one of only two Social Work majors in McDaniel’s delegation and all of MSL. Our Social Work presence within MSL has since grown, and I hope it will sprout more interest in macro social work and the amazing things that can be accomplished in the associated fields.

Faculty or staff member who most influenced who I have become: Dr. Jim Kunz has been a major influence on me during my time at McDaniel. Between being my advisor since I transferred in and being on the board of directors of MSL, he has shown me the ropes in a lot of aspects of McDaniel life and connected me with many resources that I will continue to utilize after graduation. He has a passion for macro social work that shows through his classes and his students.

Best class ever: My favorite class during my time at McDaniel was Social Work Practice with Individuals and Small Groups. We learned a lot about different treatment modalities and would often run role plays during class to get practice responding to real situations in real time. The skills we learned in this class will serve me for a lifetime, both in and out of my career.

Tell us a little about your activities, including sports, during your years at McDaniel: During spring of 2023, I was nominated to serve on the President’s Advisory Council of Students, for which we would meet several times each semester to give direct feedback to President Jasken on student life at McDaniel. This has been an incredible opportunity to represent a large demographic of students and provide information on what it was like at McDaniel as a nontraditional transfer student. I also participated in the Maryland Student Legislature for two years, serving as secretary of state during my senior year. I was also able to compete in tournaments with the Green Terror Esports team as their Fortnite competitive team captain.

Took me totally by surprise: I was not prepared to be so active in the community or organizations during my time at McDaniel. Being a nontraditional student does not lend me much time for activities since I also maintain a full-time job in addition to being a full-time student. I was surprised that I was so active in McDaniel organizations and with my fellow students and that I loved every second of it.

A student in a striped sweater sits in front of a window with a a laptop covered in stickers.

My favorite spot on campus: My favorite spot at McDaniel was Caseys’ Corner. I am a major coffee addict and would frequently stop by before or between classes for an iced latte and a pastry or sit inside to get some studying done. The staff there are amazing and friendly, and their drinks are delicious.

Most mind-boggling idea I learned at McDaniel: I was truly surprised to learn during my trip to Arizona and Mexico with Common Ground on the Border that the Border Patrol holds so much power. I did not realize that they technically have more security clearance than the FBI while having their own internal investigation team, leading to a lot of things getting swept under the carpet. I would love to be able to influence some kind of change within the Border Patrol department to see more balance and equality in how it is operated.

My capstone: I did my senior Social Work internship with Frederick County RCS through Sheppard Pratt.

What it was like in plain talk: I helped facilitate treatment planning and psychosocial assessments for our clients during their stay at RCS. This involved a lot of one-on-one conversations with clients and case management with other organizations in the area. Working with clients in a mental health program has given me the opportunity to learn about different diagnoses and symptoms as well as how to respond with more empathy.

What’s next: I plan on taking a year off of school, moving to Pittsburgh, and continuing my education in 2025 at the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work to obtain my master’s degree.

How will you stay connected to McDaniel? I plan on staying connected through the Social Work alumni page and the MSL program as a former Council of State member. I would love the opportunity to provide mentorship to other students pursuing a career in macro social work.

If you received financial aid, what did that mean for you and your family? I have received several scholarships and grants during my time at McDaniel, which gave me the opportunity to continue my full-time education without significant financial stress. Being a nontraditional student is already difficult with a full-time job and living expenses, so being able to clear my mind of extra financial stress has been wonderful. I can’t thank the McDaniel alumni enough for funding scholarships to allow students like me to continue their education at McDaniel.

Are you the first in your immediate family to attend college? What has the experience meant to you? My father obtained an associate degree, but my sister and I are the first in our family to complete a bachelor’s degree. My sister is also currently enrolled in a master’s program for Accounting, and I will begin my master’s program next year in Social Work.

About Amber

Name: Amber Chenoweth

Major: Social Work

Minor: Psychology

Class of 2024

"I started college at 29 years old after deciding to switch my career out of service industry management after the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve learned a lot about myself and my field while at McDaniel and am prepared to handle these new challenges."