Anne Walker’s, MSW ’92, career path was set in motion long before she completed her B.A. in psychology, and well before she entered the U-M MSW program in 1991.
“I had cancer as a child and was treated in Detroit,” Walker said. “This sparked my interest in health care.”
Not one to dwell on the past, Walker set her sights on completing her psychology degree at the University of Michigan while she also worked as a data collector with families of children with chronic illness.
“Working with children and their families under the guidance of Professor Barbarin [Professor Emeritus of Social Work Oscar Barbarin III] inspired me to go to grad school,” Walker said.
You can’t come out of the School of Social Work without a sense of philanthropy.
Her career path continued to evolve as she worked with patients with AIDS during her MSW field placement with the University of Michigan Health System.
“All of those pieces contributed to the trajectory of my career,” Walker said.
Once graduated with her MSW, she began working in hospitals and nonprofits in the Chicago area and for the past eight years in private practice focused on patients with acute or chronic illness. Since working in health care social work, Walker has seen some considerable changes.
“Not everyone is well-suited to a group approach, and today many patients want their needs met with very specific, individualized care,” Walker explained. “I’m fortunate to share office space with some excellent psychologists….We regularly work collaboratively with several members of a family.”
When asked how she takes care of herself while caring for others, she’s quick to refer to her MSW training.
“We learned we can’t service our higher order needs until we meet our basic order needs…it all comes back to giving attention to the primary quadrants of our life…physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual,” Walker said, “and I’ve had the good fortune of having great colleagues who understand the challenges of the work, and offer a safe space to process the related stressors. Outside of my professional life I do things that anchor me…getting outside, traveling to new cities, connecting with my family and giving back to others.”
Philanthropy was always a Walker family value, which was built upon in graduate school. Walker graduated from the School of Social Work when the MSW program was located in the Frieze Building, and they were just breaking ground for the new SSW building on South University. Walker and her classmates were encouraged to host a party with alumni to begin raising money for the new building.
“I laugh when I think about our little house with very minimal furniture…it was the initial movement to make the mark on the campus…we came from very humble beginnings in the Frieze building…and that grabbed me,” Walker said.
Walker began donating to the School of Social Work while she was still paying off her school loans.
“I didn’t think I was all that generous, but I was consistent, and every year I would make a modest donation. You can’t come out of the School of Social Work without a sense of philanthropy… and I looked to integrate that into myself.”