Class of 2020
Educational Studies Major
Alpha Phi Omega (APO)
In the fall of 2019, Bria Turner was a senior, focused on finishing her educational studies major and psychology minor. In addition to her required courses, Bria decided to take a class that sparked her interest, Introduction to Social Work. That course opened Bria’s eyes to the professional field of social work and a formal exploration of her community volunteering experiences. With encouragement from her professors and advisors, combined with her penchant for compassion and advocacy, Bria solidified her plans to pursue social work through graduate school and professional opportunities.
In her time at Cedar Crest, Bria was actively involved with The Lutz Center for Community Service as a student worker and as president of Alpha Phi Omega (APO), the College’s student-run service organization. As a volunteer Bria found her stride working as a mentor and teacher with children’s programs. She participated in a variety of programs, spearheaded the campus’s annual Trunk or Treat event and was actively engaged in a weekly educational enrichment program with The Salvation Army Lehigh Valley, an organization with a long-standing partnership with The Lutz Center.
“Bria has a passion for working with children and connecting to them in a way that allows the children to know that they can trust her. As a volunteer, she connected with children that needed consistency due to challenging life situations that the children may not understand,” said Tammy Bean, director of The Lutz Center for Community Service.
As her senior year came to an end, Bria sought positions in social work and was hired as a behavioral health worker at Friendship House in Scranton, PA.
“My job touches on everything from psychology and sociology to social work and education,” said Bria.
Friendship House is a nonprofit focused on providing programs and services for children who are experiencing emotional and behavioral difficulties and/or mental health issues. Bria holds one-on-one interventions with kids and families, is often on-call, and this summer can be found executing a coordinated grocery drop-off program for children. The children Bria works with have often been traumatized by loss, abuse, neglect, may have witnessed violence, and/or have autism spectrum disorders.
Bria has found herself well-prepared for her new work. She utilizes her educational studies and psychology background regularly and leans on her many volunteer experiences with children in Allentown. Her current work has been informed by her capstone project where she investigated chronic school absenteeism in low-income neighborhoods.
Bria added, “I am using what I studied. For example, I am aware of developmental milestones, where children’s brain function should be and how to gauge it. I am even working through a summer curriculum.”
This fall, Bria will take on more studies as she works toward a master’s in social work at Marywood University.
“In class, she advocated for herself, others and those who were not there to have their voices heard. It has always been critical to her to hold up the voices that are otherwise not heard...Her passion to serve has now led her to graduate study in social work and I am grateful that those who need a strong advocate will help find their voice through Bria,” said Elizabeth Ortiz, assistant professor of communication and APO adviser.
There are many experiences and people in the Cedar Crest community that Bria credits for supporting her journey. From professors to classmates, to advisers and supervisors she is grateful for a long list of supporters.
“What I did outside of the classroom helped me get to where I am today. Cedar Crest turned into a second home, I learned to live on my own, pay my bills and got to work with amazing people,” said Bria.