An assistant professor in the College of Social Work, Stacia West has been at UT since 2016. She teaches master’s students and conducts research. Her teaching focuses on organizational and nonprofit leadership, and her research focuses on affordable housing, poverty, and economic inequality.
West has a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies and philosophy and a master’s degree in social work, both from UT. She received her doctorate in social welfare from the University of Kansas.
Why this field
In college, West was engaged in activist work centered around labor rights and women’s reproductive health and choice. These experiences introduced her to social work and working for social change. “I decided to get my PhD so I could help educate upcoming social workers,” she said.
In the winter, she enjoys reading and listening to true crime podcasts. In the summer she loves being active outdoors. “I am avidly into biking and kayaking,” she said. West also enjoys spending time with her dog, Oscar Anne.
Her favorite book is Bell Hooks’s Feminism Is for Everybody. She said this book introduced her to feminism and was the start of her journey into social work and the study of economic and gender inequality.
If she didn’t do this
She would probably be a researcher with the Urban Institute or something similar focused on economic and household finance and policy.
In her dreams, though, she would like to train horses. West grew up around horses and her mom was a horse trainer.
Still on her bucket list
She would like to be able to run at least a half marathon. She intends to sign up and complete Nashville’s Rock ’n’ Roll race later this year.
Advice to her college-age self
“Show up and be yourself and know that is enough.” Over the years, she said, she’s learned to live by this belief and it has given her a lot of peace.
After Gatlinburg experienced damaging wildfires in 2016, West wanted to look deeper into the best way to help someone who’s lost everything. Just 48 hours after the fire, Dolly Parton created the My People Fund through the Dollywood Foundation. West paired up with Dollywood Foundation President David Dotson to evaluate the fund’s impact.
“Even a year later, people are still in pretty dire financial need there,” West said. “Support through the My People Fund was critical in helping people reestablish a foothold of financial security.”
West was disappointed to report that even though she has had the opportunity to work with the Dollywood Foundation, she did not get to meet Parton herself.