Counting Blessings, Giving Thanks
February 1, 2023
Written by Angelina Rivera
Gratitude is in the heart of Alliance University alumnus James Powell, who has expressed his appreciation for all that Alliance University’s School of Social Work has afforded him. He attended both the BSW and the MSW programs at Alliance University, where he received what he refers to as a “high quality education.” He says he was also made spiritually aware of the gifts that God had deposited within him. James had not recognized this before. He appreciated the passion and enthusiasm that were exhibited by the professors at Alliance during his college years. James says that “they loved their craft, and they were excited for us to join them in social work.”
James is currently working with a special demographic of clients: men who were imprisoned for sexual offenses. He explains that as a condition of their probation and/or parole, his clients have to meet with him for counseling. He uses the ‘Good Lives Model’ of social work that was specifically designed for this population of people. James will earn his LCSW in 2023.
He says that he has always loved listening to people, and he receives joy while giving people the space and freedom to just talk. He says that most of the time, his clients want advice. Sometimes, however, they are just looking to vent, and he appreciates the opportunity to be their sounding board. It was in James’ junior year of high school that he realized social work was a profession, and God was a major part of his decision-making process to pursue it.
James currently serves as the youth director and the preteen ministry director at his church. When he was pursuing his BSW, he pursued his passion so that it meant something when a parent told a school administrator that their child met with “Mr. James.” He says, “I felt like God wanted well-meaning people who love and who can accurately apply the Word of God practically in any given situation” in His church. James also believes that God wants servants like him who can speak intelligibly based on education, training, and experience.
He would like current students who are still pursuing their social work degree at Alliance to know that they should not give up. He shares these words of wisdom: “You will face some hard times on your journey towards your social work degree, but it will be well worth it in the end. I’m not sure which is higher: the respect that your degree carries with it for other people or the respect you will have for yourself. As Dr. Long used to say, picture yourself crossing that stage in your graduation year. Picture yourself shaking the hand of the president and getting your diploma. Picture that and finish strong.”
When asked if the MSW Program at Alliance prepared him for his current job placement, James says yes and that he constantly finds himself in positions of leadership or helping. No matter the situation, James says he feels equipped to do whatever it is that he is called to do because of all that the social work profession has instilled in him. James remembers creating his vision statement in a class he took at Alliance. He says, “I found out that my life’s vision statement is to stop the cycle of broken men. My life’s mission statement (the way that I will achieve my vision statement) is to break the cycle of broken boys. In both my primary job at my church and in my part-time social work job, Alliance University’s MSW Program gave me what I needed to accomplish that goal.”
James’ favorite scripture verse is, “Do not let mercy, kindness, and truth leave you; instead, let these qualities define you; bind them [securely] around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So, find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man.” Proverbs 3:3, 4 (AMP)