By Madison Molner
Rutgers School of Social Work Master of Social Work (MSW) student Martisha Kanard-Dwyer, who considers herself a non-traditional student, says going back to school at age 51 felt daunting. But as a student, she channels her time as a solider and does not shy away from the hard work needed to achieve a worthwhile result.
Kanard-Dwyer has a track record of putting in hard work; her MSW will mark her third higher education degree. She has also instilled this value in her family as a mother of four children, three of whom are in college. One of her children is working on their PhD, one is earning a degree in digital design studies, and another, Asha Dwyer, is a BASW student at Rutgers School of Social Work.
In the 1990s, Kanard-Dwyer served overseas in the United States Navy. She spent most of her time in the town of Nea Makri, Greece as an RM3 Radioman where she specialized in communications technology and support.
"Endurance, self-motivation and tenacity are the hallmarks of my military career," says Kanard-Dwyer.
After leaving the military, Kanard-Dwyer enrolled at Rutgers Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy where she earned her undergraduate degree in Public Health. From there she received her Master's in Pastoral Care and Counseling at the New Brunswick Theological Seminary.
"I left the military with the understanding that I am a leader and a helper of humanity," says Kanard-Dwyer. "Now working toward my MSW will round out my ability to fully engage and support the human experience and need."
Over the past few months in the MSW program, Kanard-Dwyer has served as a case investigator and contact tracer in Camden County supporting New Jersey's efforts to protect and inform the public amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. She also hopes to complete areas of emphasis in women and addiction as she looks to support women and families battling addiction and mental health upon graduation.
"We are a family that loves education as a vehicle to the change we want to be a part of in our communities and nation," she says.