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A Student for Change: Social Work

Georgian Court University 2024 Student Spotlight Alexa Kowalski

With hearts as vast as the challenges they confront, social workers stand as advocates and icons of hope for people facing adversity in our communities—and Alexa Kowalski wants to be one of them.

“I’ve always had a dream of helping people,” said Kowalski who will receive a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work in May. “I knew I wanted to go into a helping profession, but not the medical field. As soon as I saw social work was offered as a course of study, I knew it was for me.”

Kowalski is currently enrolled in an internship program with the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency, which financially supports her senior year at GCU and will provide her with a full-time position upon graduation. In her position, she accompanies caseworkers in the field, attends meetings with families and children, conducts interviews, and helps her supervisors with paperwork. Kowalski is also highly involved in GCU’s LGBTQ Club and the Social Work Club.

Though her passion for helping others is unwavering, she faced mental health struggles of her own while completing her degree. “I was supposed to graduate in 2023, but I needed to take some time off to focus on my mental health,” she shared. “When I returned, I had an amazing support system that made the transition easy, which was very nice to have.” Kowalski offers heartening advice for other students who may be struggling: “Don’t give up—if things do get tough, it’s okay to take a break,” she said.

Kowalski had special thanks for Dr. Megan Callahan Sherman, LCSW, and Professor Colleen Diveny, MSW, LCS. “Dr. Sherman and Professor Divney have been the most fantastic professors and mentors I could have asked for. They helped me no matter what and every step of the way, and I am very thankful for that.”

As a first-generation student, Kowalski is a TRIO scholar. “TRIO helped me a lot throughout my schooling and gave me what I needed. GCU is great at helping anybody out when it comes to mental health or grades. It’s a very supportive community.”

The Mercy core values of justice, respect, integrity, service, and compassion have provided a strong roadmap for Kowalski during her journey. “The Mercy Core Values are so heavily embedded in everything I follow, not just at school, but in my personal and professional life, too. Specifically at my internship, it is the foundation for how I go about approaching a lot of situations. From walking in the door to talking to different families and children. The Mercy Core Values are truly the foundation of how I go about everything in my life,” she stated.

Beyond GCU’s help and support through her journey, Kowalski’s family and friends played a huge role in encouraging her to keep going and never give up. “I want to thank my biggest supporter, my mom, Sheri Marcrie, who has been by my side and supported me through my whole journey and who has gone above and beyond to keep me on track.” Kowalski offers heartening advice for other students dreaming of completing their degrees but who may be struggling. “Don’t give up. If things do get tough, it’s okay to take a break,” she said. “Your mental health is the one thing that matters most. Take care of yourself and you’ll come back stronger. You are what matters. School will always be there, but your mental health is the most important thing.”

Aerial view of GCU.

About Georgian Court University

Georgian Court University is a leading regional university that provides a transformative education, preparing students for ethical leadership and service in the Catholic Mercy tradition. Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is Central and South Jersey’s only Catholic university. The university has a strong liberal arts core and a historic special concern for women.

As a forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, GCU is known for expanding possibility for more than 1,900 students of all faiths and backgrounds in 35+ undergraduate majors and 10+ graduate programs. The GCU Lions compete in 16 NCAA Division II sports in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC). In 2020, GCU was named a Best Value College by and a Best Bang for the Buck (Northeast) by Washington Monthly. High student retention and graduation rates make GCU a Top Performer on Social Mobility on U.S. News & World Reports rankings, and in 2024, GCU was named one of the best Online Master’s Colleges in New Jersey.

The main campus is in Lakewood, New Jersey, on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court, which is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, also serves students through its Center for Professional Studies, and at other locations, including GCU at Brookdale, and through multiple online degree and certificate programs.