Tamanda Chitalo

Tamanda Chitalo

Master of Social Work Student
at Indiana State University

Master of Social Work student Tamanda Chitalo made the decision to attend Indiana State University without ever stepping foot on the college campus in Terre Haute, Indiana. In her hometown of Blantyre, Malawi (affectionately referred to as “The Warm Heart of Africa”), Chitalo knew she wanted to pursue a career in social work. When she secured a graduate assistantship from Indiana State, she ultimately realized that studying far abroad was the right decision.

And this was only the beginning of her journey as a Sycamore.

What exactly confirmed your decision to attend Indiana State?

It was when I learned that the Master of Social Work program was accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Coming in from overseas, I had to make sure I was getting into a program that was recognized and worth the time investment. A month before coming to the United States, I was able to secure a graduate assistantship, which meant full funding. So, I was like, “Why not?”

What do you enjoy about Indiana State’s Master of Social Work program?

I enjoy the classes where I am able to express my views, offering a different perspective. At the same time, I feel like I am learning more about myself. I like the versatility of the social work program, as I feel it equips me to work in dynamic contexts.

Are there any memorable classes or projects that have prepared you for your career?

Two Black women wearing traditional African attire, posing in front of a brick building. The woman on the right holds a black, red, and green flag.

I enjoyed the culturally competent practice class a lot – as it helped me develop cross-cultural attitudes and enhanced my skills for better engaging with people from different cultures. It was more about understanding other cultures, but also being conscious of one’s own biases. We usually say, “Let people be the experts of their experiences.”

How do your professors help you? How are they preparing you for your future as a social worker?

My professors have been helpful in my journey, navigating through graduate school as an international student. I know I can always reach out if I don’t understand something or need further guidance in my work or projects. My professors have also recommended me for various scholarships and opportunities both externally and internally.

What are you most passionate about in social work? What are your career ambitions?

I plan to get my social work license immediately after completing the MSW program. I intend to practice as a therapist with children and families. This past fall, I embarked on my practicums and also commenced a fellowship with an organization in Boston.

I believe that these experiences have enhanced my practice, my professional development, and have immersed me with skills to provide quality care to under-resourced communities, honing me for a career in social work and possible further education.

In addition to your practicums and a fellowship with the organization in Boston, you completed an internship with the Hamilton Center in the Vigo County Outpatient Department. What were your responsibilities? What did you learn during this internship?

There is one word to describe my internship experience: rewarding. This was my first generalist social work internship, and I worked in community mental health. My responsibilities ranged from case management with individuals and families, skills training, conducting assessments, and connecting clients to social services in the community. These are services for people suffering from serious mental illnesses and those in need of long-term care.

I learned and understood how agencies operate and how to be a culturally competent social worker. Overall, I had the opportunity to use my knowledge from the theories learned in the classroom in real-life situations.

Three Black individuals wearing orange shirts standing outside during a walk.

What campus organizations/groups are you a member of?

I am a member of the International Students Leadership Council, and I am also serving as a board member in the National Association of Social Workers Indiana Chapter as an MSW student representative.

Why do you think someone should apply to Indiana State?

On the left is a Black woman with light brown dreadlocks participating in a walk. She holds a blue "ISU Student Social Work Association SSWA" banner with other students.

The low professor-to-student ratio [16:1] is inviting, as it ensures that one is not merely a statistic in the program. I have access to my advisor and professors. Indiana State being a sizeable university is a perk. In my experience, I exist here.

If you could describe the Sycamore experience, what would it be?

GROWTH! Almost a year ago, I was a new student with a lot of anxiety about how it would work out. Right now, I can confidently say that I am successfully navigating the sails and experiencing growth in the process as an African international student. From working as a graduate assistant to working as a graduate administrative assistant in the Doctoral of Athletic Training program and more, the learning and opportunities for growth and development are endless.