January 24, 2021
Dear Dean Scott and Colleagues,
I pray that everyone is doing well during these unprecedented times. This pandemic has exposed so many issues that we, as social workers, have been shedding light on for many years. The need for us is great in every field of focus. I worry about the emotional toll these times are having on our communities. Over the holidays, I began to reflect on who I am becoming, and the significant impact Barry University has had on my evolvement. I am grateful for the experience I had at Barry University. By telling my experience, I hope to be a beacon of light within a fog of confusion for those professors and students who may doubt their influence.
When I enrolled in the MSW program in 2015, I arrived with an understanding of what it meant to be a social worker. My viewpoint was grounded in that a social worker’s main goal was to help change people’s lives for the better. In imagining how that looked, I envisioned becoming a licensed clinical social worker. Through a collective effort of faculty and staff within Barry’s Social Work program, my desire to become a social worker was nurtured, and my unique passions were identified. By graduation in 2017, my exposure to the field of social work went well beyond the clinical practice I initially sought. The program introduced me to the area of social work policy, and thereafter I developed an interest in social work policy and understanding its impact on individuals and communities. Barry University’s Social Work program exposed me to many social work policy opportunities. I presented at conferences that afforded me candid conversations with veteran social workers, which broadened my understanding of the field. I advocated various policies to elected officials in the FL State House and US Congress. I had discussions with the National Association of Social Workers CEO Angelo McClain on leadership and how to prepare myself to be a CEO. I received political training from some of the top political analysts that served on Obama’s campaign and in his administration. I had the opportunity to meet US Representative Maxine Waters and interviewed former US Representative Ed Towns for my policy class paper. The program placed me in a position to connect with experienced social workers across the nation.
As a therapist, I worked for private and governmental agencies in both for-profit and nonprofit sectors, providing individualized treatment for co-occurring addiction and mental health disorders. I enjoyed working with individuals in a clinical environment. However, I felt limited by policies and organizational paradigms that impacted my clients. Cognizant of this feeling, I reverted to my class lessons of intentionality to understand the issues and policies affecting my clients within the community. By June 2018, I became more vocal in the community to dispel the taboos surrounding mental health. My first public speaking event was a Facebook live interview where I spoke on “How Men Grieve and How Women Can Support Men Through Grief.” Shortly after this event, I accepted many other speaking engagements, including an appearance on WEDR 99 Jamz. I spoke on topics ranging from “Mental Health and Its Impacts on Relationships” and “Breaking the Stigma of Mental Health.”
When I began working with a purpose, the tasks and the asks became greater. I suddenly found myself on planning committees with other young emergent leaders organizing nationwide and community partnered events, such as Social Work Day on the Hill for the Congressional Research Institute of Social Work and Policy (CRISP) in DC. I was on the organizing committee for the South Florida Youth Summit and worked on various community enriched projects for the Broward Young Democrats, and the Ft. Lauderdale Chapter of the NAACP. My work with these organizations prepared me for my first campaign role as a field organizer for gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum. In this position, I organized field operations of strategic coordination for worker recruitment, training, and mass mobilization. We were able to mobilize an average of 60 workers to contact over 3,000 voters in Broward County within two weeks of the election.
Although our efforts fell short of winning the election, my biggest accomplishment was seeing the transformation of our high school student employees, who in the beginning saw it only as a paid opportunity, to gaining an understanding and a zeal for community and politics.
Shortly after that, I was asked to be one of the main speakers in New Orleans at the Treating and Counseling People of Colour Conference (TCPOC). Being invited to speak at TCPOC was monumental to me because the focus of this conference was the educational awareness and advancement for the ethical care in treating those of the African diaspora. It provided me a platform to further talk about issues surrounding mental health, while also connecting with renowned doctors and educators who are influencers and advocates for people of color within their profession. TCPOC allowed me to see the many avenues I can take to stimulate change. As a presenter, I spoke about the challenges of social advocacy and potential solutions. While sharing my own clinical therapist experiences, I emphasized the importance of clinical therapists to step beyond their office walls and advocate for their clients to ensure desirable outcomes for their clients. My presentation resonated so well with the audience that I was afforded many other career-changing opportunities, including a contractual agreement with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to present at their 2019 Prevention Day Conference on the topic of “Engaging Youth Through Social Media.”
Additionally, I was invited to speak at the 2019 TCPOC conference where I spoke on the topic of “Reclaiming Our Narrative: Through the Lens of Millennials.”
In 2019, I frequently noticed that I was the only young voice at the table. For this reason, I was determined to bring more young perspectives to the table. When CRISP approached me about being a lead organizer for Social Work Advocacy Day on the Hill, I developed the idea to have student social workers as featured panelists. The panel consisted of six student social workers from different schools across the nation. The panel discussed the philosophical question “Can Social Workers Save Democracy?” By the recommendations of my colleagues on CRISP’s leadership team, I had the honor of moderating the discussion. I was mesmerized and captivated by the panelists and their fresh perspective on the future of social work.
As I evolved, I began learning and rebranding myself to being more effective as a leader in building coalitions for the purpose of synergic change to social policies. I joined the New Leaders Council (NLC), which is a fellowship for progressive millennial leadership. As an NLC fellow, I participated in a six-month intensive leadership training course at the NLC institute. The training equipped me with the skills needed to run for office, manage campaigns, and create my own business. I built strong relationships with young leaders and partnered with therapists locally to develop the Scope of Colour podcast, which focused on the state of mental health from the perspective of young black therapists. The NLC opportunity also helped me develop the idea of moderating a focus group discussion of young leaders in South Florida. During this discussion, I brought together some of South Florida’s finest young leaders from various occupations, which include elected officials, campaign managers, educators, entrepreneurs, attorneys, and activists. My main goal for this discussion was to create a therapeutic space for young leaders to highlight their experiences and ideas while expressing their frustrations with the “old guard,” long standing members in leadership positions unwilling to accept change or new ideas.
By the end of 2019, I continued to immerse myself in the community. I was elected to the Broward Young Democrats board and appointed as the chair of the social action committee for the Kappa Alpha Psi, Ft. Lauderdale Alumni Chapter. I was also invited to attend the Black Campaign School in Greenville, South Carolina. This three-day training focused on equipping next-generation African American political leaders to improve political equity. Additionally, I guided many stress relief workshops for middle and high school students while maintaining a full-time position as a therapist.
My leadership efforts and community involvement led me to be recognized by my peers, various organizations, and elected officials. I implemented what I was taught by my professors, which was identifying a problem and addressing it. I was surprised and grateful when I was recognized for efforts. I was honored with the “Community Service Award” by Mount Olive Development Corporation (MODCO). I was selected by US Congressmen Alcee Hastings to attend the Congressional Black Caucus Institute (CBCI) boot camp in Washington, DC. Being selected to the CBCI was special because I did not initially know that it was such an esteemed club. The boot camp developed some of the top political analysts, campaign operatives, and congressional leaders in office today. It was a seven-day intensive training engaged in a non- partisan, candidate-focused curriculum. The atmosphere they created was a space of healing and bonding. It was a political training mixed with a spiritual awakening transcended through a heightened sense of purpose amongst passionate black leaders across the nation. I formed strong bonds with the leaders in my CBCI cohort.
In 2020, I accepted a position as the campaign manager for Florida Representative Bobby DuBose’s re-election, which was challenging, exciting, and revering. It was my first time managing a campaign. My role in working with the Congressman truly taught me how leaders grow within their position. I was in charge of managing campaign staff and developing ways to keep the team motivated, while mandating mindfulness approaches for the Congressman to utilize as forms of self-care. It was an important campaign because he would be sworn in as the ranking minority leader of the FL State House when the 2021 FL legislation convened. As our team overcame many obstacles during the pandemic, we saw our efforts rewarded in his re- election in August. While on the campaign, I got accepted into the School of Social Work Ph.D. program at Howard University and passed the ASWB exam. A week after I finished managing the campaign, I started my first semester at Howard University. The semester was very challenging. I did not get much sleep and the workload did not decrease just because we were in a pandemic. Every thought I had was turned into a 20-paged paper, which I had to turn in every week. Although my first semester was tough, I passed all of my classes with flying colors. In October, I became licensed in FL as an LCSW. Since starting school, I have stepped down from my job and many leadership roles to focus on my studies. I desire to work more on the development of policies. I also started my own counseling practice called Voice Unplugged, which I plan to expand beyond just counseling by implementing my unique qualities of social policies.
Reflecting on my journey, I am reminded of the lives I have impacted and the inspiration I have gained from the roads I have traveled. I am grateful for the people I have met and the seats I have had at various tables. I am mindful of what my future has in store for me, but I haven’t forgotten who and why I was called to serve. I will never forget the time the professors of Barry University’s Social Work program invested in me. I remember my first class in the program with Dr. Sarah Lewis telling me to “question everything”, and to my last class with Dr. Fabio Naranjo where he would listen to me express my readiness to act. I will never forget how challenging Dr.
Sharron Singleton's class pushed me beyond my limits, yet one of many classes that prepared me for life beyond the classroom.
I will always remember the times I walked down the long hallways of Barry University with the urge to run down them because I felt like I was going nowhere. Although those days were difficult, the professors at Barry University continued to encourage me. In everything that I have accomplished since graduating with my MSW, I am certain I could not have done it without the love, dedication, patience, intentionality, and moral compass that the School of Social Work’s faculty and staff poured into me. Dean Phyliss Scott always said, “Our greatest gift is empowering others to spread social justice throughout the world.” I can honestly say that this gift has been ingrained in the foundation of my purpose. I am proud to be one of many to personify the magnification of Barry University’s superpower!
Thank you all for everything that you have done for me and continue to do for me. I will never forget it.
Daryl Campbell, LCSW