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Dr. Carol Bolton Sisco has mastered many roles, including that of clinician, educator, researcher, and children’s advocate. Her extensive career had a bit of a rocky start, though: in her first year of the Master of Social Work program, Carol Sisco got stuck with a field placement she didn’t want. When asked about her practicum preference, Sisco was emphatic about not being placed in an addiction treatment program, but she found herself at Morris Village Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment Center. The experience changed her life. Not only did she come to love the work, she seized the opportunity and used what she learned there in her master’s thesis. Sisco became particularly interested in studying female addiction since male subjects had dominated previous research. She visited detox centers in Columbia and interviewed women overcoming addiction. The more time she spent in the addiction field, the more she found that it “just seemed to fit,” despite her earlier misgivings.

Sisco graduated from USC with her MSW in 1979 and went on to earn a PhD from the University of Maryland. After spending 30 years in private practice as a psychotherapist, Sisco became the Managing Partner of Sisco Associates, an international management and consulting firm founded by her mother. Family is important to Sisco, and she cites her mother as her greatest influence. “She was an amazing woman. She had basically three careers: she was a mother, a Foreign Service officer’s wife, [and had a] spectacular career in business.” On top of all these commitments, Jean Sisco also modeled the importance of giving back. “She gave a lot to the community, and that’s how we were raised. She was an incredible example to us.”

Sisco has followed in her mother’s footsteps by making philanthropy a cornerstone of her life. She’s served on the boards of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics and Reading is Fundamental, and she currently serves on the board of the Annapolis Maritime Museum and chairs their Education Advisory Committee. In 2008, Sisco established Read for Jane, a fund that honors her late sister. Sisco recently returned to her addiction roots by joining the board of Reach Out Recovery. Reach Out Recovery has developed an online resource “dedicated to the dissemination of information about recovery issues and the provision of prevention and treatment resources.” The organization has also created a curriculum for high school students.

“My career began at USC,” claims Sisco. She believes she had a wealth of “wonderful opportunities at South Carolina,” where her instructors “took a problem-solving approach to clinical work” that has benefited her throughout her career, both in the therapeutic field and in the business world. USC “presented me with the bigger picture,” she says. “Everything I learned there, I used in some way. And all I went there to do is to learn to be a good clinician!”

Sisco sees her shift from clinical practice to non-profit leadership as a move from micro to macro. She maintains her interest in the fields of addiction and child advocacy, but now she takes a broader perspective.

Sisco exhorts new College of Social Work students to “keep an open mind” like she did. “I’m very grateful for my experience at the University of South Carolina.”

Butler P storyAn Interdisciplinary Approach to Treating Adolescent Eating Disorders

Helping a teenager recover from an eating disorder requires the support of professionals, family, peers, and others in an adolescent’s rapidly expanding world. While that concept might seem simple and obvious, Dr. Patrick Butler said that creating a high functioning, collaborative treatment team requires professionals trained to think and plan from the perspective of “person in environment.”

Sparking Change in South Carolina

Spigner K300When Katrina Spigner enrolled in the USC College of Social Work, she knew she wanted to use her master’s degree to solve problems on a larger scale than one family at a time.

Spigner, who graduated in 2003, has been using her skills to develop and facilitate the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina's catalytic grant-making program. As senior program director, she helps administer the grant review process and coaches organizations that win grants. She is responsible for strategic grants, which accounted for $627,000 of the foundation’s $2.1 million in grants in 2013. She also oversees the foundation’s Carolina Academy, an education component of the foundation's work to enhance the skills needed by nonprofit leaders to build organizational capacity.

Cooper-Lewter - Agent of Change“Walking Alongside” the Marginalized at Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina

USC College of Social Work alumna Dr. Stephanie Cooper-Lewter has been working as an agent of change in South Carolina—but not in ways that many would expect of a social work professional.

As the Senior Director of Research at the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina, Dr. Cooper-Lewter is engaged in a field that she says often is “not the first thing on the radar” for social work graduates. “A lot of students don’t think about philanthropy,” she said. “But we need social workers to be a part of the conversations about investing in different social issues.”

boltzdorene 350x350Dorene Boltz, LISW-CP, (’02) loves working with people and helping them deal with trauma they have experienced. As a psychotherapist at Joint Behavioral Health Services at Moncrief Army Community Hospital at Fort Jackson, she works with active duty service members and veterans who have been deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq.

In addition to one-on-one therapy, Boltz conducts several classes for her clients. One of them, Transitioning Warzone Skills, focuses on helping veterans recognize and tone down the survival strategies that have served them well in the warzone, but that are not as needed or helpful in their home lives. Another class, Mindfulness Meditation, teaches clients to regulate their emotions and helps them relax.

Martin A 350x350Amanda Martin, ’03, embodies the ethos and spirit of life-changing social work. She received the College of Social Work’s Alumna of the Year Award in 2010 for her work in Guatemala and her service in the Peace Corps.

In 2012 she was the plenary speaker at the Rotary International Convention, where she addressed an audience of over 20,000 members in Bangkok. She passionately describes her work in a Burmese refugee camp, where she has established the first public health college for adult refugees on the Thai-Burma border. Over 138,000 refugees reside in nine camps in the area. Martin lives and works in the Umphiem Mai refugee camp.

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