Melita “Chepa” Rank, DSW

Behavioral Health Director, Fort Thompson Indian Health Service
Fort Thompson, South Dakota

What is your current role, and where do you work?

I am the behavioral health director at Fort Thompson Indian Health Service located in Fort Thompson, South Dakota.

What about a DSW interested you most?

I consider myself a lifelong learner who is always searching to broaden my knowledge. Earning a DSW affords me the ability to broaden my knowledge, establish further connections and, most importantly, utilize the knowledge to help develop services and resources within my own community.

Did you consider any other types of graduate degrees? Why did you choose USC?

No, I had been researching other DSW programs but once I found USC’s program built on the Grand Challenges for Social Work, I knew this was the right program. I knew immediately that I needed to apply because every single one of the Grand Challenges affects American Indian and Alaska Native populations.

After earning your DSW, what do you hope to accomplish in your career?

The capstone project will give me an opportunity to be solution-focused when addressing a Grand Challenge. Throughout the project, having experts to provide guidance and assistance will help to create sustaining solutions to the most challenging social problems. I hope to implement these solutions within my own community to help reclaim wiconzani (wellness) and balance.

Do you have advice for aspiring DSW students?

Draw upon your own internal inherent strengths to persevere through the program. You owe it to yourself and the social work profession.