Ghana Spencer-Morgan, M.S.W. ’04, counsels not one but two populations--prison inmates and at-risk youth.

by Efe Tanci

“You can’t focus on your high school grades when you’re worried about where your next meal is going to come from.” —Ghana Spencer-Morgan, M.S.W. ’04

Social workers know that their careers don’t start the day they receive their diplomas. You could say social work is in their DNA. Ghana Spencer-Morgan, M.S.W. ’04, is a great example of this.

“I’m not an engineer, not a lawyer, I’m a social worker,” Spencer-Morgan said. “I have been helping people ever since I can remember, whether it was with degree or without it. It was not something I chose; it was something that chose me.”

Spencer-Morgan has been working within the prison system for years, going from Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women to continuing her career at Green Haven Correctional Facility as a social worker in the Office of Mental Health, where she’s been since 2008. Spencer-Morgan runs groups and does individual counseling with inmates who also struggle with mental illness.

She felt she had more to give in addition to her full-time job, so she volunteered at Marist College’s Upward Bound Program, which helps inner-city youth prepare for college. Spencer-Morgan has been counseling and supervising this population since 2013.

In order to better serve her clients and advance her social work skills and career, Spencer-Morgan decided to return to school. Balancing classes at the School of Social Work’s Hudson Valley Center with a full-time job and family—she’s a mother of five—wasn’t easy. She credits Adelphi for making it work. “Adelphi’s program was really adult friendly. That was very beneficial in helping me be able to finish my degree. Besides, they challenged me and made me think beyond that box.”

With retirement on the horizon, Spencer-Morgan has lots of future plans and goals. She’d like to open a private practice that would charge affordable rates for clients who could not have otherwise afforded therapy. But primarily she wants to help expand Upward Bound.

“I think the program itself is so needed to help these kids,” she said. “You can’t focus on your high school grades when you’re worried about where your next meal is going to come from. So helping them and working with them is definitely my future.”

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