Staff Highlight: HDAE's New Social Worker
It took months of searching for the right candidate to add a social worker to the Housing team, but finally in late May, Meghan Carlson was added to the roster.
Based in the trailers near the Channel Island Five Residence Halls, Meghan will be providing clinical and case management care as needed to students in University-owned housing.
“The main focus of my role will be to support the higher needs, or more at-risk students who are experiencing mental-health crisis and other health issues that may be limiting their ability to perform and succeed in housing and within their education endeavor,” Carlson said. “My goal is to help people succeed and prevent [them] from having to leave for some reason.”
She comes to us from the downtown Santa Barbara nonprofit, Noah’s Anchorage, an extension of Youth and Family Services YMCA, which serves youth and young adults experiencing various crises, including homelessness.
“Do I get used to it? Yes -- desensitized? Not really – and used to in the sense that I have a lot of experience working with people in crisis and conflict… but it doesn’t make it any easier to know that people are dealing with really hard things,” she said. “Part of what has kept me in this field and moved me into this position is, I enjoy helping people through challenging circumstances.”
In her post at UCSB, she will be reporting to both HDAE’s Associate Director of Student Conduct & Leadership, Kristen Burnett, and Student Health’s Andrew Vesper, Chief Social Worker.
“I think it’s really exciting knowing it’s a new position and kind of straddling between these two departments,” Meghan said. “I think one thing that really stood out from my interview process that made me really excited was how excited everyone who was interviewing me for the position was -- not necessarily about me, but about the position and the need for the position and the opportunity to develop something and fill a need for students to help them succeed.”
While she’s from upstate New York, Meghan has been permanently in Santa Barbara for ten years now, plus has her undergrad degree from our university. She studied abroad in Chile, and after graduating with a BA in global studies, she moved to China for a year to teach English.
“Growing up I was always really sensitive to the people around me… I developed pretty empathetic skills and I think that’s what drew me to global studies,” she said. “I wanted to learn about people’s experience and culture and diversity. And then I realized I was more interested in one-on-one experience or family experience.”
Most recently, Meghan earned her master’s degree in social work in 2018 from Portland State University while maintaining her full-time job, and she managed to plan a wedding and get married. She has two sisters, two nieces, and a cat, Biggie – yes after Biggie Smalls, the late New York rapper. She’s pumped to be back at her alma mater and has already dove in.
“Within the UCSB professional team, I’m really excited to fill and adapt to the need that created this position,” she said. “I’m excited to continue collaborating and being involved in everything I can be involved in and helping out and wearing more sunscreen.”
By Becky Villaneda