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Kalyn Bash ’20

Degree: Bash graduated in May from the Ohio State Marion campus with a degree in social work.

Current Job: Bash is social worker in the Marion City School system in Marion, Ohio. She works in two of Marion’s middle schools: Grant and Withrow, an alternative school for students with more barriers and needs.

“Social workers are playing a critical role in students' lives right now. With this ‘new normal’ COVID-19 has brought, along with trying navigate the pre-teen years, it’s a lot for a child to process. Having a social worker who’s willing to put in the hard work and be empathetic and understanding is a critical part in a child's life right now.”

Pandemic life: Because Marion City Schools have been on a hybrid schedule – with students in school twice a week and at home three times per week – Bash has found ways to support students and families in and out of the classroom.

When she can work directly with students, Bash coordinates support groups to discuss issues like healthy relationships, respect, self-care and bullying. She also does one-on-one sessions with students to help with more personal concerns.

On virtual days, Bash regularly reaches out to students and families to see how she can help. She’ll even schedule home visits, well, “porch visits” to comply with COVID-19 protocols. During these, she works to help eliminate barriers for families. That could be anything from getting homework deadlines adjusted to internet access to getting a family connected to community resources, like child care or food pantries.

“COVID-19 has been extremely difficult on students and families,” she says. “The biggest struggle I see is balancing work, school and home life. Many parents are having a difficult time finding childcare, or not having flexible work hours to be able to make sure their child is completing remote work. I just try to let them know we’re in this together and our school is willing to be flexible and accommodate their needs.”

How Ohio State prepared her: Along with how her classes and field work prepared her, Bash also has been able to help students adjust to learning in an online environment.

In her final semester at Ohio State, Bash had to transition to virtual learning when the University went online because of the pandemic. She even took Zoom tutorials, which have helped her guide students struggling with technology.

“I have that unique perspective of trying to learn online in the middle of a pandemic and how difficult it can be,” she says.

Final thought: “When I first started the social work program, Teri Kingsway (field education coordinator in the College of Social work at Marion), said something that really resonated with me. She said, ‘You need to think of yourselves as young working professionals. You need to carry yourselves that way during class because you never know who you might be talking to. A lot of our instructors are from Marion, they’re working professionals, so I took it as a networking opportunity. And I must have made a good impression because my current supervisor was one of my instructors at Ohio State.”

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