Social work grad shows passion for policy, reproductive rights

December 12, 2013 10:00 AM

Joseph Halm

As Bethany Van Kampen joins 94 classmates on Friday (Dec. 13) for the Tulane University School of Social Work winter commencement, the march will mark the culmination of three years of hard work. Van Kampen, a dual degree student who also completed a Global Social Work Certificate and is currently in her third year at Tulane Law School, says the choice to pursue both degrees was simple.

December social work grad Bethany Van Kampen

Bethany Van Kampen graduates from the Tulane University School of Social Work on Dec. 13, while she continues her studies toward a degree from the Tulane Law School. (Photo by Joseph Halm)

"I think the nexus of law and social work is good policy making, and … the social work perspective gives a face and a human element to make policy real," she says. "It's easy to make policy removed from the people, but it's not going to be informed or effective. Social work is what bridges that gap."

Van Kampen was instrumental in the development of Tulane Law Students for Reproductive Justice as one of the original founders and the chapter's first president. The group has been recognized nationally with the Cari Sietstra Excellence in Organizing Award and the Center for Reproductive Rights Student Policy and Advocacy Award. 

"I definitely feel like my campus organizing effort has been very much informed by what I learned from group work in social work," she says.

Van Kampen's commitment to domestic violence advocacy is shown by her work as a student attorney in the Tulane Domestic Violence Law Clinic. She also completed an internship with Metropolitan Center for Women and Children.

"I think what social work gave me is the perspective and reminder of why I was doing this," she says. "When I started law school, it was so different that it was a struggle at first, but I'm glad that I stuck with it. I want to make policy, and really practice a therapeutic jurisprudence, which is really connected with my social work values."

Joseph Halm is marketing/communications coordinator for the Tulane School of Social Work.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 website@tulane.edu