Marcia Edwards, Human Service and Social Work Professor



December 8, 2022 | Faculty Feature


“To understand and internalize the concept of community and giving back under the adage of ‘each one, teach one.’ That you cannot be involved in just yourself—that there is a universal connection that

we all have, and it is important to pay it forward.”

Marcia Edwards, professor of Human Service and Social Work, was recruited to join the faculty of Stella and Charles Guttman Community College in the summer of 2013. In the fall of 2013, Professor Edwards developed the fieldwork/practicum component of the Human Service major. “At that time, I had twenty-plus years of social work practice and teaching experience. I have worked to align the required internship with the expectations of social work/human service programs while teaching every Human Services course in the Catalog, along with Ethnographies of Work, and several specialized courses.” Professor Edwards led one of the earliest Global Guttman group trips to Jamaica West Indies in 2016. She was the Program Coordinator for three years.

Professor Edwards’ interests are extensive. Her scholarship has concentrated on a variety of critical subjects; she has researched specialization in addiction, HIV/AIDS, and gerontology. “Having worked with traumatized populations over the course of my career, I have for the past fifteen years begun focusing on vicarious trauma.” Professor Edwards notes that listening to the narratives of persons who have suffered trauma can lead that listener to experience trauma too. Yet individuals who suffer vicarious trauma may not be aware of the effects that such experiences are having on them. Professor Edwards is also interested in doing research about vicarious trauma as it relates to faculty and administrators of color in higher education settings. In the past five years, she has also studied students of color and retention and graduation rates.

Currently, Professor Edwards is working with the AIDS Institute/Department of Health and other stakeholders on an initiative to develop a community health/case management program that will partner Guttman Human Service students with Adelphi University master’s students. As a part of this program, students will be trained, provided internships, and offered employment within the AI/DOH after graduation. The pilot program is projected to begin in the fall of 2023.

When asked what professional project she is most proud of, Professor Edwards cites the Global Guttman student trip to Jamaica West Indies in 2016. “I collaborated with staff and faculty in Jamaica and New York to develop a well-rounded and robust student study abroad experience.” Professor Edwards also mentions working with students and observing their budding passion for human service and social work fields. “To watch students become excited about becoming a helping professional and developing the skills, knowledge, and expertise, and then to see them go on to continue their engagement with the human service and social work fields—that has been very memorable for me.”

Professor Edwards describes her teaching style as multifaceted and evolving. “Over the years, it has changed, and it will continue to—this is an ongoing process.” When she teaches, Professor Edwards does the following: “I consider the students’ different learning styles and incorporate diverse types of teaching methods. I also use the spectrum of teaching styles—or a combination of them—in the virtual and in-person classroom, including student-centered, teacher-centered, coach-style, and group-style pedagogical methods.” In her Fieldwork and Integrative Seminar 1 course, Professor Edwards is presently working with students to begin to think about the human condition and how to develop best practices from equality, diversion, inclusion, and belonging perspective.

For Professor Edwards, it is crucial that her students feel passionate about their futures. “Make sure that you are truly, truly enthusiastic about where you see yourself in your trajectory, career, your life path,” says Professor Edwards. “Really delve into it. If you find yourself going ‘yes!’ then you know it is a good fit.” Relatedly, it is critical for students to understand that the choices they make will help to inform the options available to them. “I want the students to realize that the choices they make have consequences, to really think it through.”

Professor Edwards herself is passionate about the human condition—and trying to find ways in which to improve the quality of life for everyone. She notes that it is important to participate in wellness and self-care activities on a regular basis. “I also believe that one should live in their own truth and embrace life, love, happiness, and humor. I enjoy music, cooking, dancing, and learning—I am always looking for new ways to continue to grow and thrive!”