Kennesaw State social work graduate student earns national fellowship

KENNESAW, Ga. | Dec 6, 2021

Crystal Butler, a second-year student in Kennesaw State University’s Master of Social Work program, has earned placement in the prestigious Minority Fellowship Program through the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

Crystal Butler

“This fellowship will give me the tools to provide the best mental health care for people who truly need it,” Butler said. “I’ll get connected with mentors in the field who are already doing the work in underserved communities and can provide guidance and leadership to keep me on this path.”

Butler is the only CSWE fellowship recipient from the state of Georgia, and one of 45 fellows nationally. The fellowship, which comes with a $10,000 stipend, involves virtual learning opportunities for MSW students to learn how to better provide substance abuse and mental health services in marginalized populations.

Butler’s desire to be a social worker comes from her own experiences. Growing up on the south side of Atlanta, she graduated from high school and enrolled in college, but left after one semester. A diagnosis of depression and anxiety coupled with some family issues made college a difficult experience at that young age, so she sought counseling.

“I've seen what counseling did in my own life and I also saw other people changed for the better,” Butler said. “People that came in depressed or anxious came out of that experience talkative and upbeat with a better outlook on life. I would love to be able to do that for other people, to help people with their challenges and their struggles and help them to get to a better place.”

Eventually, Butler enrolled in Clayton State University’s psychology program and earned a bachelor’s degree. While Butler wanted to pursue a doctorate, a mentor at Clayton State encouraged her to consider MSW programs to expedite her career goals. Her research led her to Kennesaw State, where she enrolled in Fall 2020.

Along with her studies, Butler has gained experience in clinical settings. She spent the spring and fall semesters this year working at Camp MAGIK, founded by Kennesaw State professor emerita Irene McClatchey to help children cope with the grief of losing a loved one. She has also interned at CaringWorks, a nonprofit social services agency founded and led by KSU associate professor of social work Carol Collard. 

Butler said that getting involved has been the key to her success and encourages other students to do the same. 

“Get to know your professors, get to know other people in your cohort, become active within the various societies, become a graduate research assistant if you like research. Just be active, be involved, take advantage of all the opportunities,” she said.

After Butler completes the fellowship and graduates in spring 2022, she plans to take a licensure exam to become a practicing social worker. Her goal is to provide counseling in a community mental health setting before opening her own practice.

– Dave Shelles

Photos by David Caselli

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit