Major: Social work
Hometown: Charlotte Amalie, U.S. Virgin Islands
Shantaye Powell is a social work student at Murray State University’s regional campus in Paducah. In addition to her coursework, Powell maintains an active schedule: serving in a leadership role for the MSU-Paducah Social Work Club and volunteering in the community. When she earns her degree in 2019, Powell hopes to make a difference in the world: working to influence social change and policy as well as to fix inequalities. This is her story.
Activities and Organizations
I am the vice president/media guru of the MSU-Paducah Social Work Club. I am also a student on the University’s Paducah campus. What I enjoy most about being a member of these groups is all of the volunteering that we do in the community. I just became a member of the Sigma Alpha Lambda honor society that focuses on leadership and community involvement. In the upcoming semester a goal of mine is to join more student organizations. I also received the NAACP Boyles/Coleman Scholarship for 2016–17.
Who has influenced you the most in your life and why?
My biggest influence would be my grandmother because she is the most resilient person I know, and I have learned to be just as resilient. She has taught me that difficult times don’t last forever and to make the best of whatever situation life throws at you.
What do you want to do after graduation?
After graduation I will attend graduate school at the University of Louisville to obtain my master’s in social work (MSW). Then I will take the exam to become a licensed clinical social worker in hopes of opening my own practice to provide counseling for children and young adults. A long-term goal of mine would be to run for Kentucky state representative.
What first sparked your interest in your chosen field?
I thought a degree in social work would be a start in my efforts to influence social change and policy in addition to fixing inequalities — especially in the educational system.
How do you define success?
Success to me is about feeling content in your accomplishments. If you set goals for yourself and complete them that is success. And being able to take care of your family and help your friends and neighbors.
Why did you select Murray State?
I live one mile away from campus and my kids attend schools two miles away from campus. I was so thrilled to find out that they offered a majority of the social work courses here in Paducah, which I heard was an exceptional program, and then I lucked up and was hired here. I felt as if it was destiny.
Who is one of your favorite professors and why?
Dr. Whitney Cassidy-Caywood. She has become a very influential mentor of mine. She has inspired me to become a counselor and has been hinting that I should teach as well. I appreciate her honest feedback on my assignments and the fact that she pushes her students to do their very best.
What is something you’ve accomplished at Murray State that you’re most proud of?
Last semester my fellow Social Work Club members and I organized a food drive for Heartland Cares, Inc., which is a clinic that offers comprehensive and supportive care to clients who have tested positive for HIV in addition to offering preventative education to community members. Because of our efforts to collect as much food as we could for their organization, they honored us by naming their new pantry after the MSU-Paducah Social Work Club. I felt so accomplished, but I believe the best is yet to come.
What opportunities have you been afforded to Murray State?
Working on campus I have had the opportunity to become close to my professors. I’ve also had many opportunities to help set up for community events held on the Paducah campus, which gives me the opportunity to meet, greet and network.
What do you think sets Murray State apart from other universities?
I am a student at a regional campus. I am also a single mom. Murray State’s regional campuses allow students like me to juggle other responsibilities like work and family while still getting a quality education.