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Marianas Variety: Young & Informed: NMC offers a new Social Work program (May 25, 2018)

NORTHERN Marianas College recently started offering an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts with a concentration in Social Work.

I interviewed Professor Thomas D. Sharts, the Department Chair of the Social Sciences and Fine Arts at NMC, to learn more about this program. I asked him the following questions:

Q: Can you tell me a little about your background?

I am originally from the Buffalo, New York region and grew up close to Niagara Falls - one of the wonders of the world. I attended State University of New York College at Buffalo and earned my Bachelor of Social Work degree . I also attended the State University of New York at Buffalo and earned a Master’s degree in Social Studies education. I founded and operated Friendship Helping Ministries in Charlotte, North Carolina from 1999 to 2007. This social services agency provided many helping programs to assist economically disadvantaged youth and adults. In 2002, I was awarded the National Football League’s Community Quarterback Award for Human Services leadership via the Carolina Panthers. I arrived in Saipan in 2009, and have been employed with the Northern Marianas College as the Department Chair of Social Sciences and Fine Arts.

Q: How long have you worked at the Northern Marianas College?

I have worked with the Northern Marianas College since August 2009.

Q: What are some classes that you teach?

I teach the following classes: Sociology of the Family; Intro to Sociology; Intro to Social Work; Social Psychology; Ethics in Social Work, and Social Problems.

Q: Can you tell me about the social work degree program that you and your team developed?

The A.A. degree in Liberal Arts with an emphasis in Social Work is an excellent degree for students to pursue, because NMC has worked out an articulation agreement with the University of Alaska at Fairbanks to allow 48 NMC credits to be transferred to their Bachelor of Science degree in Social Work. Moreover, students who transfer into that program will take remaining courses on island via an online platform. They will also pay Alaska in-state tuition rates, which are extraordinarily reasonable. In sum, students have no need to travel to Alaska in order to earn a Bachelor of Social Work degree; their BSW degree can be completed here on island at reasonable tuition rates. The Social Work concentration is part of NMC’s A.A. Liberal Arts degree and comprises four social work courses, which are also part of the BSW course curriculum at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks. Those courses in NMC’s A.A. Liberal Arts Social Work concentration are: Introduction to Social Work, Ethics in Social Work Practice, Human Behavior in the Social Environment #1, and Micronesian History. I teach all of the Social Work courses, and Mr. Barry Wicksman teaches the Micronesian History course.

Q: When was this program first offered and how many students are currently enrolled in the program?

The Social Work concentration program was first offered in the Fall of 2017 and there are six students currently enrolled in the program.

Q: Do you believe that this is a degree program that the community is or will be interested in?

The Social Work concentration degree program we are offering at NMC is very important to the CNMI community and should generate more interest, because it creates an opportunity for students to pursue a career path that offers awesome/diverse opportunities for serving people. In addition, the procurement of a BSW degree leads to the potentiality of earning an MSW degree (Master of Social Work). An MSW degree gives persons opportunities to be employed as counselors, county social workers, child protective social workers, adult protection social workers, school counselors, healthcare social workers, managers and/or supervisors of social services agencies, etc.

Q: How might someone interested in learning more about the program get in contact with you?

Anyone that is interested in learning more about NMC’s A.A degree in Liberal Arts with a concentration in Social Work should call me for an appointment at 237-6761 or send me an email at [email protected]. I would certainly enjoy seeing more students enrolled in this academic program that offers many versatile opportunities for making a viable living helping people.

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