The Ohio University community is working hard to adapt to an online environment alongside the shifting developments of COVID-19. Among those quickly working to transition their efforts are Survivor Advocacy Program (SAP) graduate assistants/field interns Justice Riley and Marissa Johnson. Riley and Johnson are using this time to develop their skills in a virtual setting. They are both able to continue their required internship hours remotely due to the flexibility of their placement at the Survivor Advocacy Program and the support of the Department of Social Work.
The switch to a virtual environment is a learning opportunity for both students and staff. “I am gaining a lot of new experience learning to communicate with various technological platforms during this time,” said Riley. This shift has certainly presented a new challenge but has left plenty of room for growth and intellectual development. Both Riley and Johnson are able to continue building their skills while also gaining new ones in this new environment, which will allow them to complete their required internship hours and graduate on time despite the upheaval of their semester. Marissa shared that she has “developed new skills and abilities. For future employment opportunities and in general, I have learned to be more adaptable when change arises.”
University departments are transitioning many of their programming efforts to online platforms as well, including recently hosting the annual Take Back the Night (TBTN) event. TBTN is an annual event held through collaboration across various University departments to take back the night from sexual and domestic violence. Everyone, regardless of gender identity, is encouraged to participate in this event that focus on survivor experiences. “Hosting events such as the virtual TBTN in addition to countless other events shows that our spirit and support can’t be held down and really allows us to stay connected as students,” said Riley. “Though we are working and attending classes remotely, we are still dedicated to giving our all to fellow Bobcats. This sheer sense of care and support makes me proud to be a Bobcat!”
Johnson is thankful that she still has an opportunity to complete her internship and gain valuable experience for her future career at a time when many internships and programs are on hold. “Numerous, if not all, mental health agencies, alcohol and drug agencies, etc., have moved to telehealth and other forms of remote work. With this transition and loss of clientele, many agencies are not in the position to hire new social workers,” Johnson said.
Johnson has continued to work with clientele and says, “we have turned to various technological platforms to ensure we can still work with and advocate for our clients.” It’s important that resources are still available to those who need them, and technology has made that possible.
Despite the current circumstances, these Survivor Advocacy Program graduate assistants are able to advocate for their clients and keep integral resources available to OHIO students while also meeting their own required clinical hours for graduation. Riley and Johnson have proven their ability to adapt and persevere, valuable skills to develop in this time of uncertainty.