Alumna Returns to Point Park to Share Expertise in Social Services Field
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Meet Marcia Sturdivant
Job titles and employers: Deputy Director, Allegheny County Department of Human Services, Office of Children, Youth and Families and Adjunct Assistant Professor, Point Park University
Hometown: West Mifflin, Pa.
Currently resides in: Wilkinsburg, Pa.
Degrees earned: B.A. in psychology and behavioral sciences, Point Park University; M.A. in criminal justice, University of Detroit; and Ph.D. in educational psychology, University of Pittsburgh
Graduation years: B.A. in 1978; M.A. in 1980 and Ph.D. in 1996
Awards and special honors: Three Rivers Youth Nully Award for Community Leadership; Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh Whitney M. Young Jr. Service Award; The YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh Racial Justice Award; Valerie Bullard Black Administrator in Child Welfare of the Year Award from the National Association of Black Administrators in Child Welfare; Oxford University, Round Table Research Panelist
What is it like to be director of the second largest child welfare agency in Pennsylvania?
There is never a dull moment. It’s been a challenging but very rewarding experience. Our agency works with many different departments but we all come together for the purpose of helping kids. I enjoy managing people and see it as a privilege to engage with families. I have a lot of responsibility in this job and I take it very seriously.
What influenced you to pursue an undergraduate degree in psychology and behavioral sciences?
It fit with my personality. I enjoy guiding people and managing projects.
Why did you choose Point Park?
I liked that Point Park offered small class sizes where you can get one-on-one attention. Also, there was just something about the atmosphere at Point Park that intrigued me. It was such an inviting, friendly environment and had a real “family feel” to it.
Why did you decide to return to Point Park to teach?
I’ve always been grateful for my experiences at Point Park so it was important for me to give back. When I was invited to teach, I was very humbled by the opportunity. I love the world of academia and have enjoyed teaching in it. Also, the student body at Point Park is unique and gifted. That is not something you often find elsewhere.
What classes have you taught at Point Park?
- Sociological Foundations
- Social Inequality
- Theories of Personality
- Sociology of the African American Experience
- Community and Family Partnerships
- Forensic Psychology
How did your undergraduate education play a role in helping you earn a doctorate degree?
I got a good foundation at Point Park that encouraged me to continue my studies. The professors were very forward thinking. I believe positive undergraduate experiences encourage students to want to continue learning.
How have you incorporated your work experiences into the classes you teach?
I provide my students with real-life examples and case studies based on my professional experiences and work with families. Also, several of my psychology students have interned and now work for Allegheny County, either for the Office of Children, Youth, and Families or one of our providers.
What's your advice for students pursuing a career in the social services field?
Learning is applying theory to practice. Before graduating, get practical experience through internships, jobs, and volunteering. The theoretical paradigms you learn in class will all make sense once you see them in action and can apply them to individual situations.