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Siena Heights University Dedicates Sister Peg Albert Social Work Lab
Two red chairs sitting side by side in the Sister Peg Albert Social Work Simulation and Practice Lab at Siena Heights University

October 31, 2023, Adrian, Michigan – Siena Heights University undergraduate social work students and clinical mental health master’s degree students now have a dedicated space to practice their counseling skills and receive feedback. On October 14, 2023, during Homecoming weekend, the University dedicated the Sister Peg Albert Social Work Simulation and Practice Lab.

A classroom in the lower level of the science wing of Sacred Heart Hall was renovated to create the social work classroom and lab. The lab was named in honor of Sister Peg, who retired in July 2023 after serving 17 years as President of Siena Heights University. Before serving in administration, Sister Peg ministered as a social worker, particularly with college students.

Sister Peg Albert, OP, PhD

“I’m humbled and honored to have the Social Work Simulation and Practice Lab named in my honor,” said Sister Peg, who could not attend the dedication. “Social work is a much-needed profession today with all the mental health issues people are experiencing, particularly since COVID. Siena Heights social workers will be well trained, given the opportunity to learn by using the lab and receiving feedback from others.”

Sister Peg said she “loved every minute” that she practiced social work, especially with college students. “I knew that my time with them was sacred because of their willingness to share their deepest thoughts and emotions with me … I used my social work skills throughout my whole life, whatever I was doing.” 

Douglas Palmer, PhD, President of Siena Heights University, said the University was founded “to bring light in places that were cast in darkness – the light of education but also the light of service. I can think of no better dedication for Sister Peg, nor better outreach of our mission here at Siena Heights, than training the future generations of social workers to go out into the world and bring light into the darkness.”

Elizabeth Davis, Director of the Social Work program, noted that, of about 12 social work programs in Michigan, Siena Heights University is one of only five that offers students a simulation and practice lab – and one of only two bachelor’s degree programs to do so. “This has been a dream for seven years, and it has finally come to fruition,” she said. “Typically, students would have to wait to get to the MSW level to have such a space …. We are really on the cutting edge here.”

The lab includes a classroom with two smaller rooms in the back: one replicating a typical social worker’s office and the other a home situation. Students have the opportunity to practice their skills in these rooms. Cameras will allow classmates to watch the practice on an 86-inch screen and offer feedback. Another portion of the lab includes a circle of chairs, allowing students to practice leading groups.

Susan Shelangoskie, Vice President of Academic Affairs – who brought Elizabeth’s proposal to the President’s Cabinet for approval – noted the hard work that Elizabeth put into the project, from cleaning the floor to preparing the room to be painted. “She has put a lot of sweat equity into this, as well as a lot of her intellectual skill and expertise,” she said.

Sister Sharon Weber, OP, who served with Sister Peg as Vice President of Academic Affairs, led in the blessing of the lab. “We ask you to bless the individuals, the faculty, and students who will use this space to teach and learn the skills that will help them and the many lives they will touch in the future,” she prayed. “Most especially, we ask you to bless the relationships that the skills in social work and counseling will develop here and through many years into the future through the work of our future alums.”

Sister Sharon also prayed for blessings on Sister Peg, “for whom we dedicate this space and who brought her own social work education and skills to benefit so many in her lifetime, and especially in her time in leadership here at Siena Heights.” 

After the blessing, the approximately 35 Social Work faculty members and students, administrators, alumnae, and friends stayed to enjoy refreshments and tour the new lab before participating in other Homecoming events.

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