Shannon Werhane headshot

Shannon Werhane

Community Is My Ambrosian Value

Master of Social Work, Class of 2016

"As a child I dreamed about how cool it would be to help people and be in this position. I remind myself of that daily, that I get to get up every day and go do this."

Shannon's education was about so much more than book-learning. It was about personal discovery, finding her niche, and how she can have the biggest impact. In our MSW program, you can learn how to empower people to improve their lives through their strengths and how to spark stronger communities. It is an education that can have a deep personal impact, too. Shannon calls it "eternal optimism."


Shannon worked for years as a preschool teacher and believed that experience would translate easily into a new career as a child therapist. While in her MSW field placements, she realized she liked working with adults, too. "I discovered I was really drawn to suffering. It was inspiring to learn how much people can endure and still have hope. I was really excited to be part of the journey with people in that." Shannon works as a clinical therapist at Transitions Mental Health Services, in Moline, Ill.

What do you love about your job?

Walking together

"Transitions is really one of those communities in which you feel supported, you feel safe, and you get to be creative. It's a great environment in which to work. And, the people we get to serve, our clients, are the most heroic people I've ever encountered. They are inspiring and it keeps me going."

How did the MSW program prepare you for this position?

"What stands out to me is the strength-based approach. A lot of it was learning how to reframe things: to talk from a client perspective and less about a diagnosis; less pathologizing and being more people-centered; and finding all of strengths you possibly can. That approach has rippled throughout not only my professional life, but my personal life, too. It is a sense of eternal optimism."

What is Empowerment Social Work?


What did you learn in the program that you did not expect to learn?

Shannon was in her 40s when she started classes and was a bit nervous about citing and writing research papers. "But the coaching, small class setting, and my professors were so supportive that I found I actually liked research. It gets, again, to that focus on critical curiosity and learning how to learn in a sense."

Master of Social Work


What Ambrosian value resonates with you the most?


"One thing I try and incorporate into practice is that none of us can do this alone. We all need connectedness. We all need a sense of whose got my back, and who can I look to for support? Creating that, whether it is in a work or home environment, or out where you live, is huge aspect to preserving our sense of self and staying healthy."

SAU Video: Shannon Werhane

So, what's next?

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