Allison Joyce, MSW, LICSW
Master of Social Work, 2007, Boston College
Bachelor of Arts, 1999, University of Vermont
Brimmer and May 1987-1993
“Looking back, this is why Brimmer’s education is so valuable—it provided the opportunity to not only succeed academically, but offered so much more in terms of athletics and the arts, all within a supportive community, encouraging a well-rounded approach to life.”
1) Tell me about your work experience.
I worked as a clinical social worker since 2007 after graduating with my Masters in Social Work from Boston College. I began my full-time career at Boston Children’s Hospital in 2007 where I worked as an Emergency Department Clinical Social Worker providing hospital wide coverage. In 2010, I accepted a position on the cardiovascular service at Boston Children’s Hospital, covering the cardiac intensive care and cardiac step down units. In January 2015, I accepted a position working in adult Cardiovascular Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston where I am currently employed.
I am currently exploring opening a private practice where I plan to treat adults coping with psychosocial stressors, including substance abuse, chronic illness, and depression and anxiety.
2) How did your education at Brimmer help create a path for your current life?
Brimmer provided a thorough, comprehensive, and diverse education that focused on the importance of current and historical context in matters of social justice and equality. My education at Brimmer emphasized the importance of appreciating the social context of each individual’s personal and community experience. This impacted my decision to pursue a college education majoring in sociology and influenced my decision to pursue a career in social work. As a clinical social worker working with patients and families from diverse backgrounds, it is essential to consider societal, cultural, and community factors that impact and contribute to individual coping, particularly during times of significant distress.
3) How would you describe your experience at Brimmer, both academically and socially?
Brimmer was an academically rigorous environment with expectations that included participation in athletics and the arts. The School was academically demanding, which taught me the importance of prioritizing tasks in order to stay ahead of my responsibilities. Maintaining academic performance while engaging in consistent, daily athletic training, events, and theatrical performances was a balancing act. Brimmer taught me how to manage multiple personal and social interests while simultaneously maintaining a demanding career.
The academic environment at Brimmer was inclusive with a focus on group participation during classes. I was taught to appreciate others’ viewpoints and respect classmates during class discussions. Collaborating with others to reach a consensus on the approach to complex issues was encouraged and has benefited me in my work. As a clinical social worker, complex issues often require consistent communication, careful analysis, and collaboration with multiple, interdisciplinary team members.
In academics, competitive sports, arts, and theatre, there were many game victories, amazing theatre performances, and awards won; though in the real world, this is not always the case. Teachers, coaches, and administrators encouraged us all to accept the losses with the wins and move on past the crushing defeat to conquer the next academic, athletic, or artistic goal. These were invaluable lessons that still impact life at work, home, and in the community.
4) Which faculty and staff made a memorable impression on you?
There are too many people to mention! So many faculty and staff provided consistent support and encouragement throughout my years at Brimmer. For me, the most memorable teacher was Mrs. Stewart who taught 7th grade Phenomenon of Language and Latin. As a new student in the 7th grade, my first Latin class in a new school intimidated me, but she saw my potential to succeed academically and did not hesitate to share this with me in class. I often think of Mrs. Guild’s expectations of her English Literature students. Her appreciation of literature and encouragement around writing in our weekly journals contributed to my love of writing. Mrs. Stewart and Mrs. Guild often cross my mind, particularly when faced with a grammar question while writing psychosocial assessments. Neal Brown’s history classes were not only interesting, but also fun, and he influenced my career as a social worker with his emphasis on social justice and analyzing the context of every issue. His classes sparked my interest in learning about and experiencing cultures around the world through traveling.
5) What led you to attend Brimmer? What grades did you attend?
In 1987, I was preparing to enter Boston Latin School and my mother encouraged me to take the entrance exam at Brimmer. I was accepted and was given the option of attending Boston Latin School or Brimmer and May. I still remember taking the entrance exam in the old science building. I attended from 1987 to 1993.
At Brimmer I consistently achieved honor roll, occasionally, high honor roll. I had high expectations for myself. Looking back, this is why Brimmer education was so valuable. It provided the opportunity to not only succeed academically, but offered so much more in terms of athletics and the arts, all within a supportive community, encouraging a well-rounded approach to life.