PITTSBURGH - Alizé Strickland ’20 has always given back as a community and
church volunteer. In Carlow University’s
Bachelor of Social Work
program, she learned how to shape her helpfulness into a career. She found her
calling as the family engagement coordinator for Homeless Children’s Education
Children and youth may lose access to the basic need of shelter for a variety
of reasons, and that homelessness disrupts their normal development. HCEF is
there to help.
"We meet them where they are, wherever they need us to be, and help by
providing the resources they need," Strickland said.
It is a dream job for Strickland that followed a successful internship with
HCEF during her senior year at Carlow.
Assistant Professor Jessica Friedrichs, directs Carlow's field education.
"Alizé’s field placement internship at HCEF is a good example of the types of
experiences that Carlow’s BSW students have because she was able to practice
skills working with individuals, families, groups, communities and with
political advocacy," Friedrichs said.
Strickland's internship entailed work with individuals and small groups at
homeless shelters, where she tutored children in literacy and social-emotional
skills. On a broader level, she organized Homeless Children’s Awareness Month
events; conducted research to learn about diversity within the population and
the relevant public policies that support children experiencing homelessness;
and used the organization’s data tracking and evaluation systems.
"At Carlow, our goal for our BSW students in field placement is for students
to be mentored to learn the skills to support individuals and families but
also to advocate for community change, so Alize’s internship was really a
perfect fit," Friedrichs said.
In her senior year at Carlow, Strickland received the BSW Award for Field
Excellence, based on her extraordinary passion. The staff at HCEF were
impressed by the intern's self-motivation to present a strengths-based model
of social work to staff and then to help incorporate the new approach into the
"We were not surprised at all that she was hired at the organization after
completing her internship, and we know she will bring so much to the social
work profession." Friedrichs said.
Now in a full-time role, Strickland continues to advocate for homeless
children with a focus on coordinating efforts to secure access to education.
Strickland serves as a bridge between elementary schools in the Pittsburgh
Strickland said, “Based upon referrals, I provide clients with help or
resources, whether that be a laptop, school supplies, hygiene products, or
anything else that may be a barrier to their education.”
Clients are eligible for HCEF assistance if they are considered homeless as
defined by the McKenney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987, meaning
“individuals who lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence.” Most
clients need temporary assistance that may range from two months to two years.
The BSW program gave Strickland the skills she applies every day. Faculty
would use role-playing to have students act as therapists while also giving
them the chance to play the role of clients. Courses in case management and
research developed tactical skills in interviewing, note-taking, and how to
plan research and record data.
“I always just wanted to help people who were at a disadvantage,” Strickland
While Carlow equips students with job-ready knowledge and skills, Strickland
is living proof that one can turn a passion into a career.