Return to top
Spotlights
sconnollly
"The program is challenging but extremely grounded in hands-on application of theory and evidence-guided practice. Classes are discussion and project- based. I enjoy this because each student has his/her own lens through which ideas are filtered; thus I am introduced to viewpoints that never would have occurred to me."

Alumni Spotlight

Sally Connolly

Class of 2011

Degree

M.S.W.

Major Department

School of Social Work

Hometown

Cape Elizabeth, Maine

Biography

My background is in teaching and advocating for children. Bates College in Lewiston, Maine was my undergraduate school, and I majored in psychology. I taught elementary school in Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon and New York. 

Prior to attending UNE, I was director of a Sylvan Learning Center in Mt. Kisco, N.Y. where I managed 14 teachers, conducted academic assessments, personalized educational plans, counseled parents, and conferenced with teachers. This increased my interest in exploring long-term solutions to help families cope with school-related issues. 

When I moved to Maine, I was looking for a graduate school that offered flexibility, an innovative staff, and an emphasis on human rights. UNE was a perfect choice for me.

What do you like about UNE and your major department?

Portland Campus MSW professors maintain a nice balance between informality and expert guidance. The program is challenging but extremely grounded in hands-on application of theory and evidence-guided practice. Classes are discussion and project- based. I enjoy this because each student has his/her own lens through which ideas are filtered; thus I am introduced to viewpoints that never would have occurred to me. 

I am in the Student Organization which allows us to participate in faculty decisions in regard to curriculum, program assessment, and scheduling. I also tutor a Somali high school student in the Make It Happen program, mentor two Sudanese girls, and facilitate a girls’ group at Deering High School. I am passionate about assisting refugees in Portland, and UNE has been a perfect place to learn how to do that well.

What internships, clinicals or class projects were especially important to your professional development?

My internship at the Multilingual/Multicultural Center through Portland Public Schools has given me an opportunity to learn about cultural responsibility. We register all non-English-speaking students for school, and are often one of the first agencies to see these newcomers fresh from a foreign country. An empathetic and welcoming demeanor is essential for them to be introduced to public school as a positive and important link to success in the US.

We also provide professional development courses in cultural sensitivity for teachers and coaching for parents, as well as tutoring and support for ELL students. This has been a perfect place for me to use my skills as an educator, and learn how to best assist non-English speaking populations in the public schools.

What are your plans for the future?

After graduation, I hope to be an advocate for the increasing numbers of refugee and immigrants here in Portland. My ultimate dream is to become a cultural broker, and to teach cultural responsibility to others.

More on the School of Social Work