After a rewarding 40-year career as a social worker, Susan Rosenson, AM ’65, is contributing to the future of the profession by supporting fellowships for SSA students. She and her husband, Edward, a retired CPA, who live in Los Angeles, have supported fellowships at the School, including the Susan and Edward Rosenson Fellowship, established in 2007 and another fellowship established in 2014.
“This is my way of giving back. Social workers don’t go into the profession to make money and they frequently accumulate debt while they’re in school, so this is a way I can help,” Susan Rosenson explains. “I’ve met three of the recipients and found them to be very bright and compassionate young women who will contribute a great deal as social workers to their client population and to the social work community.
“I grew up knowing I wanted to be a social worker,” she says. “I grew up thinking I wanted to work in an orphanage, which I never did. I worked as a camp counselor and group worker for a number of years as a teen and during college.”
Rosenson’s career includes a broad range of social work positions: working with children and families, and being a field instructor for student social workers, as well as teaching and mentoring. She concluded her social work career as a medical social worker in the field of oncology.
After receiving a BA in sociology at Washington University in St. Louis, Rosenson enrolled in SSA. “I particularly enjoyed the casework classes as well as those classes from (former Dean) Peggy Rosenheim. I made some life-long friends at SSA.”
After graduating, she worked at the Institute for Juvenile Research in Chicago, a child guidance clinic, with families and children in a multidisciplinary setting. “In fact, my very first supervisor, Maurine Kornfeld, AB ‘42, AM ‘48 also lives in Los Angeles, and we are in touch to this day. I received excellent supervision and education not only from experienced social workers but also from other disciplines, including psychiatry and psychology. I knew that I wanted to continue my work in multidisciplinary settings,” Rosenson said.
She then went to the Washington, D.C. where Rosenson worked for the Child Guidance Service at Walter Reed General Hospital. Later, she became an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the National Catholic School of Social Service where she taught casework and supervised a group of students in a child development program at Georgetown University.
Susan and her husband, Edward, married in 1974, and moved to California where Rosenson worked as a medical social worker at the University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center in the pediatrics unit and supervised social work students from Smith College. In her position as outpatient clinical social worker at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, Rosenson implemented the program called “Look Good Feel Better,” a national program sponsored by the Cosmetology, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association. It was designed to help women improve their appearance and better deal with their cancer.
“Cancer is a devastating disease. It was very satisfying to be able to provide resources, to help with support groups, and be part of the support the patients needed,” Rosenson explains.
Since her retirement Rosenson has been a docent at the Museum of Tolerance (MOT ) in Los Angeles, leading groups of school children to learn about racism, bigotry, prejudice, and discrimination through history. The MOT is the educational arm of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an internationally renowned Jewish human rights organization where visitors learn about the Holocaust and how lessons learned from that time can be applied to our world today.
“People ask me how can I work there, the same question they asked me when I worked in oncology, with families in distress, or with sick and disabled children,” Rosenson says. “As a social worker I am always on the side of the victimized, the poor, those who have great difficulty meeting the challenges of the world in which they live. I apply my knowledge and values to all. I guess I’m always on the side of the underdog.”
By providing support for SSA students, the Rosenson fellowship funds will enable the next generation of social work graduates from SSA to have fulfilling careers as well.