King University’s Social Work Program Attracts National Honors

Dec 13, 2019 | King University

BRISTOL, Tenn., Dec. 13, 2019 — Four years ago, King University took on the tall order of establishing a degree program that would seek to benefit human well-being and human rights, affirm the dignity and worth of others, and work to empower the vulnerable and oppressed in society.

Today, King’s Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program is educating scholars to do just that — and garnering attention for its results. Since its inception, students and alumni in the program have received a number of scholarships and awards on the national, state, and local levels, and the program itself has collected a national service award and has twice been ranked among the nation’s best social work programs.

“The central framework of our program is one that embraces a service orientation,” said Jodi Helbert, Ph.D., assistant professor and the founding program coordinator of the social work program in King’s School of Health and Professional Sciences. “Our faculty keep in mind that everything in the program must be Christ-centered, student-focused, and aligned with established ethical codes. In this environment, our students quickly learn the importance and rewards of shifting their thinking from the idea of ‘serve us’ to ‘service,’ and it’s quite gratifying to see them being broadly recognized for their achievements — especially since we know that for each of those accolades, there are many people in the community who will be assisted in an ethical and effective way.”

Graduates can choose from a range of career options, including legal and medical work, addictions counseling, victim advocacy, child welfare, school social work, policy analysis, and more. Courses are available both in the classroom and online — a feature that is currently being utilized by students across the US and from as far away as Trinidad and Tobago and Germany.

“This is a relatively new degree program, but one that’s centrally aligned with our mission of producing graduates who excel as thoughtful, resourceful, and responsible citizens with a passion for serving God, the Church, and the world,” said Matt Roberts, Ed.D., provost of King. “We’re proud to say that, in addition to a steady climb in program enrollment, our graduates have a 100% pass rate for licensure, to date.”

Student and alumni honorees include:

Bobby Flowers ’17, who won first place in the national Patty Gibbs-Wahlberg Scholarship for his strategic plan addressing the issue of homelessness;

Arielle Holloway ‘20, who won first place in the national Patty Gibbs-Wahlberg Scholarship for her work addressing toxic sports cultures and their impact on elite-level student athletes;

Jason Abernathy ‘19, who won the National BSW Student Leadership Scholarship and was also recognized as the 2019 BSW Student of the Year for the state of Tennessee;

Karren Bennett ’17 and Heather Parker ’19, both of whom won the regional M. Jeffrey Byrd Award, and;

Darrell Smith ’19, who won the Algernon Sydney Sullivan award.

Additionally, King’s social work program won first-place distinction in the Phi Alpha National Humanitarian Service Award, and is now ranked No. 11 for best online BSW degrees by Best Online Programs, the second such year it has been scored among the top programs in the nation. The program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

“We’ve been able to accomplish a great deal in this program in a relatively short span of time,” Helbert said. “Not only is this degree an investment in the personal and professional lives of our students, it’s a commitment to the well-being of society, and we look forward to seeing the long-term impacts of our wonderful students, who are indeed changing the world for the better.”

For more information about King University, visit, and for information specific to the BSW, visit


King University is a Presbyterian-affiliated, doctoral-level comprehensive university. Founded in 1867 as King College, the University offers more than 90 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in fields such as business, nursing, law, medical and health sciences, pharmacy, education, and humanities. Graduate programs are offered in business administration, education, and nursing. A number of research, off-campus learning opportunities, and travel destinations are also available. King University is a NCAA Division II and a Conference Carolinas member with 25 varsity sports. For more information about King University, visit King University does not discriminate against academically qualified students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, or disability. King University is certified by SCHEV to operate in Virginia. King’s primary location in Virginia is Southwest Virginia Community College, 724 Community College Rd, Cedar Bluff, and VA 24609.



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