News Takeover: NC State SSW’s First JD/MSW Student

Wallace Driggers, our School’s first Dual Degree JD/MSW student, is set to graduate this spring.

For those not already familiar with Wallace, we wrote an article in 2021 that featured her official entrance into the JD/MSW Program. Having now studied in NC State’s School of Social Work and Campbell Law School, she is ready to share her story.

The following was written by Wallace…

My path through the MSW/JD dual degree program has been anything but traditional. Though I began as a two-year traditional MSW student in the fall of 2019, I learned of the partnership between the School of Social Work and Campbell Law School in the months before I began my social work curriculum and knew I could not pass up the opportunity to become both a social worker and an attorney. After months of discussions with the former head of the School of Social Work, Dr. Karen Bullock, and the advisor of the proposed MSW/JD program, Professor Sontina Barnes, I finally got the go-ahead to pilot the dual degree, contingent upon my acceptance to Campbell Law.

During the first semester of the MSW program, I studied for the LSAT, took the test, and applied to Campbell Law School in hopes that I might be able to graduate from both schools by May 2023. Today, I am in my last semester of the dual degree program, taking both law and social work classes to wrap up my coursework. After a year of MSW studies, two years of law school, and this fourth and final year of combined enrollment, I am finally nearing the finish line!

In my first year of the MSW program, I interned at UNC Student Wellness for my field placement, where I worked with college students facing deferred adjudication for alcohol and drug-related infractions. This year, I am completing my field placement at the Restorative Justice Clinic of Campbell Law School under the supervision of Professor Jon Powell. At the Clinic, I have had the opportunity to learn about the circle process, participate in a small group circle at the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women, and attend nondiscrimination ordinance claim mediations and victim-offender dialogues. Through the Clinic, I have also been able to take my knowledge of restorative justice to West Smithfield Elementary where I shadow the school social worker and assist with social work interventions from a restorative perspective.

While away from the MSW curriculum and exclusively taking law classes, I was fortunate enough to participate in pro bono projects, compete in intramural moot court and mock trial competitions, and even earn a spot on the Campbell Law moot court team where I participated in the National Appellate Advocacy Competition. One of my proudest moments was when I planned and facilitated Campbell Law’s first pro bono name change clinic with the help of several volunteers I recruited. I am also currently a research assistant for the law and literature civil rights course, and I am a teaching assistant for the advanced legal writing program.

The experience of obtaining both degrees has equipped me with a unique set of skills that will soon position me at the intersection of social work practice and the law. Though I am still not sure what area of law I will enter upon passing the Bar this summer, I know my possible paths have multiplied thanks to the dual degree program and I can’t wait to see where my education takes me next.

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