SIUE’s Ferguson joins Segue. Hear about social work on the show.


On this week’s episode of Segue, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s weekly radio program exploring the lives and work of the people on campus and beyond, College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) Dean Kevin Leonard, PhD, interviews Aidan Ferguson, assistant professor in the Department of Social Work.

This episode of Segue airs at 9 a.m. Sunday, April 10. Listeners can tune into WSIE 88.7 FM The Sound or

Ferguson earned a bachelor’s in 2009 and a master’s in 2010, both in social work, from Florida State University (FSU). In 2014, she earned a master’s in bioethics from Albany Medical College and, in 2020, she earned a master’s in geographic information systems (GIS) from FSU. She recently defended her doctoral dissertation in social work at FSU, and she will earn her PhD this spring.

“Let’s begin by having you tell our audience a little about yourself,” begins Leonard. “How did you become interested in social work?”

“I think I became interested in social work a little opposite of most people,” Ferguson says. “Most people get into it, and they’re super excited about it – something happens in their life, and that’s kind of what changes their life story. For me, I grew up with a bunch of social workers.”

Ferguson says her stepfather was the chief of adult mental health for the state of Florida, her father worked for the Department of Children and Family Services, and her mother worked in various social work positions throughout her career.

“I grew up in a social work heavy —values, ethics, personal relationships— household. As most people do when they turn 18, I said I am not going to do what my parents did!” exclaimed Ferguson.

She began community college in pursuit of a radiology technician degree, and after taking multiple social work classes, ultimately decided to formally switch majors.

Ferguson shares how a social worker, who was assigned to her family during a hospitalization as a teenager, helped her and her family.

“The social worker really helped my family navigate having to transport me by plane from Tallahassee to Tampa; having to navigate somebody basically staying there while I was in the hospital;

and navigating all those different things,” Ferguson explains. “Even growing up in a family of social workers, it’s easy to lose sight of what social workers do because you’re around it all the time. When I look back, I realize this person did so much for my family, and I’m grateful for that now.”

After graduating with her bachelor’s degree, Ferguson immediately began graduate school, and worked for five years as a licensed certified social worker in medical social work and crisis intervention.

Later, after an article on bioethicists piqued her interest, Ferguson began researching bioethics (which studies ethical problems arising from biological research). Within a few weeks, she enrolled in an online master’s program as the only social science student in her cohort.

Ferguson goes on to discuss how she became interested in geographic information systems, her current research, and beginning her academic career at SIUE during the pandemic.

Tune in at 9 a.m. Sunday, April 10 to WSIE 88.7 The Sound to hear the entire conversation


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