After graduating from Newman University in 2013 with a master’s degree in social work, Jae Hedrick started working in child welfare — the exact line of work she said she wouldn’t do.
“Looking back, I believe that God led me to this work, and this is where I belong,” she said.
Hedrick worked for Saint Francis Ministries until June 2020, when she joined the Child Advocacy Center of Sedgwick County, which has been a dream of hers ever since she discovered the organization.
While she was with Saint Francis Ministries, Hedrick initially held a role in reintegration, serving families who were working through the process of getting their children back home.
“This work was rewarding and heartbreaking, as the process is never straightforward and there are lots of hurdles families need to navigate,” she explained.
Hedrick then took a role writing adoption home studies and spent some time as a supervisor in adoption before joining the organization’s fundraising arm.
“Being able to assist in supporting some of the great work being done by my colleagues in the field was amazing,” she said. “Some of my favorite memories are from that work when the light switch turned on for a donor or community member and they understood what workers and families face in child welfare.”
Advocating for others
Now as the multidisciplinary team coordinator at the Child Advocacy Center of Sedgwick County, Hedrick said the most rewarding part of her work is “when I’m able to advocate and positive change happens for a child in our community when it seems like there are no other options.”
She also enjoys being part of a multidisciplinary team across several different agencies.
“Honestly, it doesn’t get much better than that,” she said. “Due to the agreements that we have with other agencies, we are able to speak freely with each other, which significantly reduces the amount of time that an abused or neglected child has to tell their story.”
Hedrick, who received a bachelor’s degree in social work from Wichita State University, feels that attending Newman for her master’s program was a phenomenal experience.
“The support I had was extraordinary, and I felt challenged academically,” she said. “Dr. Duxler, Dr. Gloria Hegge and Dr. Kevin Brown were wonderful mentors during my time at Newman. Never once did I worry about reaching out to them if I had a question or concern.”
For current students who are interested in entering the field of social work, Hedrick’s advice is to maintain a good reputation and create strong boundaries. She also encourages students to never be afraid to ask for help.
She added, “Social work is God’s work, and you are truly serving a population that can never repay you, which in itself is admirable.”
Ultimately, for Hedrick, “I feel called to do this work because I know without a doubt God goes before me and helps ready those I speak to on behalf of abused and neglected children in our community. Each day that I get to serve the children in our community is a good day. If not me, then who?”
Earn a master’s in social work
The MSW program, with a focus in trauma-competent practice, offers students a supportive and individual education in the classroom and in Field Education.