Passion for academia drives social work doctoral student

Adrienne Baldwin-White

Adrienne Baldwin-White never expected to pursue a doctoral degree, much less become an academic. Yet, with her doctorate in social work from the Arizona State University School of Social Work in hand, she will be starting as an assistant professor with the School of Social Work at the University of Georgia in August 2018.

Baldwin-White earned her undergraduate degree in English from Birmingham Southern College, then her master of social work from the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa.

Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, Baldwin-White wanted to be a diabetes educator and saw social work as the path to get there.

“I didn’t know that much about social work, but once I learned more, I realized we are everywhere,” Baldwin-White said.

Her journey to getting her doctorate began when a professor in her research methods class encouraged Baldwin-White to pursue a doctoral degree.

“I always loved school so this sounded like the perfect opportunity for me,” she said.

Following a passion

Baldwin-White found ASU’s program gave her the academic freedom to evolve.

“I was told I could focus on my passion and the school would help me find the support I needed to pursue my research goals,” said Baldwin-White, who knew it would take several years to finish a dissertation.

“You have to be able to follow your passion,” she said. “The ASU School of Social Work has allowed me to do that.”

Baldwin-White focuses on sexual assault prevention, specifically on college campuses. The work is inspired by her volunteer efforts as a rape victim advocate.

“I was the person there to help the victim,” Baldwin-White said. “We might talk, sit there or whatever was needed at that moment.

“It is really tough to see women in that kind of pain. I knew the best way to see change is to prevent that from happening,” she said.

Baldwin-White will be using her dissertation data to develop prevention programs for college campuses. She interviewed college students on their beliefs on sexual assault, consent, and rape culture, and wants to develop programs that bring about more effective results.

“Think about traditional methods — a lecture at the beginning of the college experience — it isn’t going to work. We can use technology so that students always have access to information,” said Baldwin-White, noting the complexities at ASU and reaching a large student population.

One of the first things that she will be doing in her new position is developing these programs.

“I really could not imagine myself doing anything else — research, teaching, it is a perfect fit,” she said. “I’m really excited about this new journey. I get to do something that I love every day.”

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