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Madison Pollock
August 19, 2020

Honors Thesis Paved the Way to Social Work Program

Recent graduate Madison Pollock ’20 enrolled in the master’s program at Baylor University’s Garland School of Social Work. She says her work experiences and researching her Honors thesis at Berry prepared her to tackle graduate school.

“I chose Berry, because when I first stepped on campus, it felt like home,” Madison recalls. “Everyone is in your corner; everyone is cheering you on. I needed a close-knit community so I wouldn’t feel like I was drowning in the masses, and Berry provided that for me.”

After developing a passion for psychology in high school, Madison chose to major in the field and work in the psychology department. She spent two years tutoring children in the WinShape Homes foster care program on Berry’s Mountain Campus.

“Getting to connect with those kids propelled me on my academic journey at Berry and also informed my future plans,” Madison says.

Completing two summer internships in social work reinforced Madison’s desire to become a social worker. The summer after her sophomore year, a Berry connection linked her to an internship with Children in Crisis Emergency Shelter. Her second internship after her junior year combined study abroad with a social work position affiliated with Wesley Community Action in New Zealand. These experiences gave Madison the drive to complete an Honors thesis project focused on the foster care system.

“I read everything I could get my hands on about the foster care system,” Madison says. She decided to focus her research on the efficacy of programs that extended support for foster children until the age of 21. Madison used the federal National Youth in Transition Database to compare outcomes of fostered youth in states that had adopted extended care policy to those of kids in states that did not extend care. 

“The answers we came up with were inconclusive,” she says, “but my professors encouraged me that it was okay and even helpful to pursue the ambiguous answers and to keep asking questions rather than taking the easy, definitive answers, or trying to make the data fit my presumptions.”

Assistant Professor of Psychology Casey Dexter supervised Madison’s Honors thesis project. “Besides all the measurable qualities that show up on paper, Madison also possesses an interpersonal awareness that will suit her well in her future,” Dexter says. “Madison is able to tackle difficult and sensitive topics in a delicate and tactful manner. I have no doubt that she will excel as a social worker and be an incredible advocate for the most vulnerable among us.”

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