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Lydia Slattery
Media Relations Specialist

Phone: 563-387-1417

Senior Grace Lawrence gains hands-on experience through Luther College’s social work program

DECORAH, IOWA–Grace Lawrence, a senior at Luther College, is majoring in social work because she wants to help vulnerable populations. She’s spending her last semester in Washington, D.C., learning more about the social work field through an internship. 

“What I like about Luther’s social work program is the amount of field experience it offers,” Lawrence said. “Luther prioritizes real-word experience, and the courses are focused on applying the coursework in practice.”

Grace Lawrence

As part of her coursework, Lawrence is interning in D.C. through the Lutheran College Washington Semester, a personalized program for students at Lutheran-affiliated colleges to take advantage of academic and professional opportunities in the nation’s capital. 

She’s interning for the National Community Action Partnership, a nonprofit membership organization that provides training and resources to community organizations to alleviate poverty within communities. 

Her duties include creating materials to promote the connection between community action and social workers. March is National Social Work Month, which celebrates social workers and their contributions to society, and she’s created social media posts to celebrate the month. 

After graduation, Lawrence plans to attend graduate school to earn her master’s degree in social work and eventually work in the hospice care field. Broadly, the hospice field focuses on caring for people at the end of their lives. 

“I’ve always wanted to help people,” Lawrence said. “With social work, there are so many ways you can help vulnerable people.” 

Before interning at the National Community Action Partnership, Lawrence was part of Luther’s Social Impact Research Fellowship last summer, an 8-week program where students partner with a community-based organization to fill a need. 

Britt Rhodes

She promoted an online chat system for Northeast Iowa Community Action Corporation, which provides assistance and support for families with limited resources.  The goal of the fellowship is to connect students with the organization to problem solve within the organization. Lawrence worked to promote the chat system through a variety of channels including newsletters and social media posts. 

Grace’s persistence, hard work and curiosity led her to apply for the Summer 2023 Social Impact Research Fellowship program where she could connect what she had learned in her social work and liberal arts courses to a community-based setting,” said Britt Rhodes, head of the social work department. 

Through the fellowship, I was able to meet a lot of program directors and frontline staff which sparked my interest in the Community Action organization and is what ultimately led me to my internship in D.C.,” Lawrence said.

Luther College’s social work major aims to meet the demands of the social work field and prepare students for a variety of professional settings. The program offers rigorous courses, internship opportunities and student organizations like the Social Work Association. Lawrence’s advice to incoming students is to take as many social work courses as possible. 

Her other piece of advice  is to take advantage of the college’s counseling minor, which combines courses in psychology, counseling and social work. 

Lawrence also enjoys the small size of Luther, which offered her personalized experiences throughout her college career. 

“There are so many hands-on experiences in Luther’s social work courses,” she said. 

About Luther College

At Luther College in beautiful Decorah, Iowa, students explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at

Contact Information

Lydia Slattery
Media Relations Specialist

Phone: 563-387-1417