Temple University

Top Watermark

Alumni Q&A: School of Social Work provides inspiration after graduation

Janet Mintzer has served as the President and CEO of Pearl S. Buck International for the last 16 years. She earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Temple's School of Social Work (SSW), earning a master of social work in 1991. Mintzer discussed how her mentor and professors continued guiding her after graduation and helped her find her passion.

What are the greatest inspirations for your work today?

Pearl S. Buck, the founder of Pearl S. Buck International, has been my greatest inspiration. She was a woman ahead of her time: a Nobel- and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, an activist for civil rights and a humanitarian for children who faced discrimination. The major issues of her lifetime remain major issues today. I am blessed and honored to be able to continue her legacy.

Of course, I am also inspired by the success stories I hear about the lives changed through our programs. And, I suppose my biggest challenge is raising the money we need each year to continue our important work. Pearl Buck left an amazing legacy to continue, and the challenge for the board and community is to raise the funding needed to do the work.

How did your Temple education inform your career?

Both of my degrees were from the School of Social Work, now part of the College of Public Health. After I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, I thought I’d be a preschool teacher. Then, one of my professors recommended I apply for a position at a child care advocacy organization. That experience greatly influenced my decision to pursue my master’s degree in social work and my career path.

Why did you choose Temple?

I love Temple. I was also accepted at the University of Pennsylvania for my master’s degree, but I chose Temple because of my undergraduate experience and also because of the emphasis in the social work degree, which was more aligned to my interests.

What were some highlights of your experience as a student at the School of Social Work?

I had a great advisor and professor, Happy Fernandez. She encouraged me, coached me and inspired me to achieve everything that I have achieved to this day. I maintained my relationship with her until she passed away a few years ago.

I also had great internships as part of my undergraduate and graduate education. Through each experience, I learned more about the field and myself. After graduation, I was offered a position at one of my internship organizations--and the rest is history.

What aspects of your SSW education do you still use today?  

I learned so many things that I still use today. Planning, community organizing, grant writing, budgeting, writing — the list is truly endless.

What is your advice for current Temple students?

Find a mentor at the school, someone who knows you and can see your strengths and encourage your development. It will make all the difference in the world.

Posted:  August 9, 2017