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Taylor Clark (M.S.W. '07)
Taylor Clark (M.S.W. '07)

He decided to come to PSU to get his Masters in Social Work so that he could do more than help one person at a time. He wanted to be part of the decision-making process.

Growing up in the Midwest, Taylor was always interested in medicine. He served as a medic for the Army during the Vietnam conflict. He received his nursing license from Chemeketa Community College in Salem and worked as a nurse for many years in Oregon. After moving to Hawaii, he was the victim of a random and senseless assault that left him blinded in one eye. He was unable to continue as a nurse but still had an incredible passion for helping people.

"I began looking for other ways to use the skills I still had." Taylor was hired as a case manager at LIFE Foundation, an AIDS service organization in Hawaii where he worked for almost 9 years. He returned to Oregon in 2002 where he worked at a drug and alcohol treatment facility. One of the clinicians Taylor worked with was working on his BS at Portland State University in the satellite program in Salem. Taylor thought at that moment "if he can do it, so can I." He enrolled as a part-time student and fell in love with sociology. Thanks to an inspiring professor, Michael Dawson, PhD, Taylor gained a whole new perspective and instead of admiring those who had a college degree, he too realized he could be a graduate.

After earning his undergraduate degree, Taylor decided to apply for the MSW program because he wanted to be part of the decision making process. In his work, he realized the case loads he managed were similar to those of people holding MSW and MPH (Masters in Public Health) degrees, but those without degrees were not consulted on the decisions that made changes in how services were delivered and how the organization was run.

"As a case manager without a degree, I had used my intuition and experience helping people, but I didn't know theory. I did a lot of trial and error. I vaguely knew about evidence based practice, but didn't have the education to utilize it. I was told this was 'how you do this,' and I followed directions. After coming back to the mainland, I saw Drug and Alcohol treatment processes performed in a cookie cutter manner. I wanted to work at a higher level."

Taylor's first year placement as at the Oregon State Hospital and his second year he was placed at the Salem Hospital in the Intensive Care Unit. "I really enjoyed the opportunity to interact in depth with people experiencing life changing trauma. It was rewarding, as I was able to use the skills and knowledge that I learned at PSU to engage patients and families as a professional." Taylor particularly enjoyed studying with Susan Hedlund and Pam Miller.

Taylor is presently employed at Signature Hospice as an MSW medical social worker.