When Keaton first came to Northwestern, he considered a degree in youth ministry. But he also wanted to serve God’s people beyond church walls. His passion for those on the margins of society led him to become a social worker and mental health practitioner. Today Keaton works with adult clients who are completing Teen Challenge’s treatment program for drug and alcohol use. During each session, he seeks ways to meet clients’ mental and emotional needs—supporting them in their journeys to holistic healing.
What led you to apply for your current position?
Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge is a Christian organization that incorporates faith into their treatment programs. Their choirs visited my church when I was growing up and shared stories of freedom from addiction, so I was familiar with their work before I applied. It would be special to make a lasting impact in people’s lives, and I think I’ll be able to accomplish that by working in a program that integrates faith with clinical services.
Why did you decide to study social work?
I have a heart for people, especially those who are disadvantaged, marginalized and experiencing pain. My current role allows me to work with people who have experienced significant trauma and help them find healing. I’m not sure I want to be a mental health therapist my whole career, but a social work degree is extremely versatile and opens doors to working in other settings, such as schools, hospitals, nonprofits and the government sector.
What are the strengths of Northwestern’s social work department?
Northwestern’s social work program prepared me well for graduate school and my work as a mental health practitioner. The projects and assignments were relevant to the work I do now, and I frequently think back to what I learned in classes. The social work major also prepares you for different areas of social work, not just mental health. The cohort I graduated with is working in many different social work roles.
How did your NWC education prepare you for graduate school and your career?
I worked as a nursing home social worker for a couple years before graduate school and easily transitioned into that role following graduation from Northwestern. Once I started graduate school, most of my assignments were equivalent in length and difficulty to those I had at NWC, so it did not feel like a big difference.
How did Northwestern prepare you to lead a life of significance?
Northwestern motivated me to pursue work that I find meaningful and that impacts others. NWC offers a college education that not only prepares you for a job, but also makes you think critically about every aspect of your life, helping you pursue God’s redeeming work in the world.