Faculty Profile: Jessica Friedrichs, MSW, MPA — The Intersection of the Heart and Mind

ALISON JURAM D'ADDIECO - April 14, 2014

"At Carlow, you can find out what you're passionate about, and discover what you want to do to make a difference in the world." 

"Social Work speaks to my heart," says Jessica Friedrichs, MSW, MPA. Her mind, she says, is rooted in "big-picture work." 

For Friedrichs, coordinator of Carlow's Service-Learning Program, assistant professor in the Department of Social Work, and co-director of the Honors Program, the big picture means making connections so that she can best reach those in need-and teach others to do the same.

 Jessica Friedrichs, MSW, MPA, Professor, Coordinator of Carlow's Service-Learning Program, and Co-Director of the Honors Program
Friedrichs—joined by Carlow students—participates in Amizade's Water Walk, helping to raise funds for clean water initiatives around the world. Friedrichs is on the far right, holding her son.


She is dedicated to the concept of service-learning-courses where learning outcomes are met through meaningful community service-something she's been involved in for years, both locally and globally. 

Prior to Carlow, Friedrichs spent four years facilitating and co-teaching global service-learning courses in Bolivia, Tanzania, Northern Ireland, Jamaica, and the Navajo Nation through the Amizade Global Service-Learning Center. Projects ranged greatly-including a trip with a filmmaker to help Jamaicans promote and raise money for a new children's camp.

Locally, she worked with the Pittsburgh Refugee Center, helping Somali Bantu refugees adapt to life in Western Pennsylvania. That position, too, led to service-learning when she connected them with college students working on an oral history project.

Friedrichs is passionate about her field. "I believe in the mission of social work," she says. "We help the most vulnerable people, and we believe in the dignity of all people." 

 Jessica Friedrichs, MSW, MPA, Professor, Coordinator of Carlow's Service-Learning Program, & Co-Director of the Honors Program
Jessica Friedrichs, MSW, MPA, coordinator of Carlow's Service-Learning Program, assistant professor in the Department of Social Work, and co-director of the Honors Program 

Coming to Carlow, she says, was a "perfect fit," given the university's continued mission of service to others-and because of the strength of the social work department. 

"Carlow students have real relationships with their faculty members," she says.  "Because it's small and intimate, they're not lost in a sea of people. The students go through as a cohort, so they have an opportunity to really connect with each other."

Friedrichs is thrilled by Carlow students' enthusiasm for service-learning.

"Students come in and see service-learning is required," she says, "and they say, 'Cool!' They're excited about it, in a way I haven't seen before."

Service-learning opportunities abound at Carlow. Some recent offerings include:

  • An Early Childhood Education partnership where students tutored children who are homeless.
  • A Community Health Nursing course, in which students provide health education to groups with limited access to it.
  • An Adult Development course where students volunteer with the elderly-research from which was published in the Journal of Prevention and Intervention in the Community.

It's opportunities like these-and so many others- that make Friedrichs proud to be part of the Carlow community.

  Jessica Friedrichs, MSW, MPA, Professor, Coordinator of Carlow's Service-Learning Program and Co-Director of the Honors Program
Jessica Freidrichs at Mercy Service Day with Kendra Jenkins of Schenley Heights Community Development Corporation—a community partner


"I'm so happy here," she says. "The programs that come out of our school really give you experience out in the community so you can find out what you're good at, what you're passionate about, and discover what you want to do to make a difference in the world."

Connecting students to one another so that they can more effectively connect to their community, service-learning fosters both passion and intellect in realizing Carlow's historic mission—to serve others.


Find out more about Carlow's Honors Program and the Department of Social Work