Larry Cranston graduated from the University of Iowa social work program in Des Moines, Iowa, in 2002 with his Masters in Social Work. Now twenty years later, he has led a career of fulfilling work at various social work institutions to look back on.
Before attending the UI’s MSW program, Cranston graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with his Bachelor’s in Social Work in 1999. Currently, he works as a Youth Counselor Supervisor with the State Training School in Eldora, Iowa, and as an in-home counselor through the Central Iowa Juvenile Detention Center.
He started work at the State Training School in 1989, and supervises staff members as well as performs clinical duties. Cranston said the part about his work that he finds most rewarding is having an impact on the clients he serves, which often includes kids who find themselves in trouble with the law.
“I'm not allowed to follow up with the clients that I work with, but sometimes when they leave, they call back or sometimes they write me letters and send me messages about how much of a difference that I had in their lives,” Cranston said.
Cranston noted that his experience with the Des Moines MSW program prepared him with a range of skills including public speaking and defending written papers, but also the importance of advocacy for others.
“At the U of I School of Social Work, I had to stand up and speak in front of a lot of people, defend papers,” Cranston said. “I think it prepared me to be able to teach others to stand up, and also be able to advocate for disenfranchised people, and try to improve the services that I can offer to them.”
An anecdote from his time in the program that Cranston recalls fondly is a class trip that he took to Mexico to study the social services there. He said the trip was incredibly enjoyable, and that he is very thankful he decided to do it.
“That will always stand out as a great memory for me, to be able to go down there and do that, and learn that culture,” Cranston said. “And the friends I made during that time, we were grouped together. Nobody knew anybody else at the time, but we all became really good friends by the end of that class.”
Additionally, Cranston noted that all of his instructors during his time in the program were “first class,” and helped shape him in one way or another. He said it was ultimately a rewarding experience earning his MSW with the UI School of Social Work.
To those looking to enter the field of social work, Cranston said it is “worth the leap.”
“It’s a rewarding career if you like helping others, if you like making a difference in people’s lives,” Cranston said. “If you like to give, social work is a field you want to be in.”