Q&A with Autumn Bush, MSW ’14
Autumn Bush, MSW ’14, is the Senior Program Administrator at the Center for Faculty Advancement (CFA) within NYU’s Office of the Provost. She is also a psychotherapist with the Feeling Good Center in Manhattan, where she sees clients several evenings a week and on Saturdays. She recently spoke with NYU Silver about her career and the role of her MSW education.
Did you start in NYU’s Provost’s Office right after you graduated from Silver?
No, I actually started there several months after I graduated. The whole time I was at Silver, even though I was in the full-time MSW program, I was also working full-time at a nonprofit. I stayed in that job through the summer after I graduated and then thought it was time to change up my career a bit. I had been in the nonprofit sector for a long time, working with organizations that focused on providing underserved middle and high school students with access to college and other opportunities. I was ready to see what was on the other side once those students got to college.
Because NYU has so many schools, programs, centers, institutes, and global campuses, it seemed like the perfect place to see the inner workings of a university and how it supports students for success. I didn’t set out to work in the Provost’s Office, per se. I applied for and was hired for the position of Program Associate in the Office of Faculty Resources, which was later acquired by the CFA. It was a role that involved programming for faculty keeping the question of “what’s missing?” at the forefront of everything we do to support faculty. I was thinking from the vantage point of a high school student getting into college and asking if faculty are actually evolving with the students or are they saying “here’s what we’ve always done and that’s how it’s always going to be.”
When were you promoted to your present position and what does that role entail?
I was promoted to Senior Program Administrator at the CFA in 2019. I am charged with planning and implementing faculty development and enrichment programs for the NYU community and for faculty who teach at one of the more than 50 Faculty Resource Network (FRN) partner institutions. In addition, I oversee the FRN Student Exchange Program, which is a partnership between NYU, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs).
How did your NYU Silver education help prepare you for this position?
Social work in and of itself really touches many areas of life. It’s not one size fits all and it’s not just clinical. You can do administration, you can start your own foundation…there are so many things that you can do with an education based in social work.
One thing I took from my experience was that I can have dual roles. I can practice as a psychotherapist and I can continue to inform policy and processes at a university. At Silver, I gained the tools to ask more questions and focus on how we implement change in a way that is inclusive, but also firm, and based on data as well as what is happening on the ground.
I feel very successful in the role that I am in right now, and in being able to partner with many different schools and constituents. My role includes working with students as well as with faculty and administrators. I’m always thinking, “how do we get all these people in the room to inform change?” Making connections between constituents and asking questions about what's missing and who’s missing from this table right now is grounded in my education at Silver. That’s something that was really nurtured at Silver and I’m grateful for it.
What did you do in your Field placements and how do you draw on that experience in your work?
My internships were with a women’s shelter for runaway and pregnant or parenting youth. Shelter work and addressing the traumas that are inevitable because of a circumstance like homelessness was not something I had previously considered. In fact, I worked with Dr. Linda Lausell-Bryant, who is now a Silver Clinical Associate Professor, for a brief period as she was then the executive director of my field placement. Prior to my education at Silver, I had done internships that focused on trauma, specifically childhood physical and sexual abuse working with children and families. So to go from that to parenting and communication skills and working with compounded levels of complex trauma, that was different for me. In my clinical practice, I specialize in the treatment of trauma and mood disorders so it was really helpful to get that exposure and hands-on experience in how to adapt evidence-based practices and talk therapies to support clients. It definitely impacted me in a way that I had not expected and it still informs my practice today.
Was there a class that was particularly influential at Silver?
There were two actually and forgive me for not remembering the course titles and professors’ names. One was taught by an attorney. He brought us on field trips, including one to a courthouse to observe a trial. He was very thorough in explaining how social work impacts the justice system and ways we could get involved and inform policy. The addictions course that I took was also very informative. It gave me an understanding of how addictions are not an individual issue as they impact the addicted, those who love and support them, and the world around us. I learned how to support those who are struggling with addictions. Neither was a track that I was seeking to specialize in, but it was a nice touch to be able to explore those avenues without following those paths specifically.
What advice would you give to incoming MSW students?
For those working full-time, I would encourage them to take the 32-Month, Extended, or Extended OYR pathway. The only thing I would have done differently was be more involved as a graduate student on campus. There are so many clubs and organizations to join and, unfortunately, there weren’t enough hours in the day for me to take advantage of those opportunities.