From temporary, part-time employee to C-suite executive assistant, Percelene MCLain knew her success at Nyack College was less about landing a job and more about a call to servant leadership.
“Percie,” as she is fondly known, explains, “I would have to say that my overall confirmation of the call was in the joy and satisfaction that I experienced at the end of each work day. I finally had a job that I enjoyed and one where I was able to identify my purpose. There was fulfillment in the work that I did for the College, and even more so for the students. There are alumni from years ago, asking if I still have “that chair” in my office.” No doubt that seat was a safe place for innumerable confidential conversations that included both tears and laughter.
“I have the opportunity to talk with students, listen to their stories, explore their challenges, and encourage them to recognize that they have what it takes to reach the finish line because the Lord is on their side,” she shares.
In each role she has taken on in the Social Work program, she’s always gone the extra mile for her students. Selflessly carving out time beyond the requirements of her role, Percie has consistently demonstrated her care and the importance of investing in the academic careers of those endeared to her.
“I counsel, coach, and mentor. I’ve developed various platforms to support students, including workshops, field education prep, mid-term check-ins and time management guidance. I also developed a mentoring program called Uniting for Scholastic Success, which is available to both current BSW and MSW students and alumni.
Not only has she coached students, but Percie has been able to commiserate after becoming a student herself in the Bachelor of Social Work program in 2005. Considering her full-time employment, she intentionally took what she calls “the snail trail” and completed her degree in 2012. That was the same year she was appointed Academic Advisor in the School of Social Work. In 2015, she was a member of the first Master of Social Work cohort and graduated in 2017. The following year, she was appointed to the position of Interim Director of Field Education.
“The Time is Right for Social Work” is the 2022 Social Work Month theme chosen by the National Association of Social Workers. Asked why this is the right time for the profession of social work, Percie MCLain unveils her passion for the field.
“I believe that the world recognizes that what has been done in the past has not worked. It has offered a Band-aid solution, which was no solution at all. It was only a temporary fix. My observation of the world today causes me grief and pain. The misuse of many resources, that could be available to help many people, are reserved for a select few.”
“People are suffering and dying; families are broken and homeless; parents are jobless; children are hungry. People with mental illness are overlooked and left out in a world too big for them to comprehend; so, they react in the only way they know how. People need practitioners who are compassionate, competent, empathic, skilled and those who will bring their values and strong work ethic to the needs of the people.”
“Social workers are taught and trained to observe an individual from within their environment. We recognize that there is more to the person than what is visible. Therefore, we engage, we establish rapport, develop a trusting relationship, and offer a nonjudgmental and safe environment to meet the clients where they are to explore the possible cause of the problem and work with them to find a solution.”
After 17 years in the School of Social Work, Percie continues to advance the mission of being a “Competent, Compassionate, Catalysts in Christ.”
“I have witnessed how our program has stood by these words and have purposely imparted these values to our students. We help them understand that social work is more than a profession. In order to impact change, they must be authentic and carry out their responsibilities with hearts of compassion. Competence in practice is imperative to help bring healing and not cause more harm. As catalysts, they are change agents, and with Christ, they are given the ability to bring forth a better change to a lost and hurting world.”