School of Social Work

No. 28 M.S.W. Program in the U.S.

Oscar Kemp stands inside the Academic Learning Commons building, holding a railing with both hands. He's wearing glasses, a blue shirt and dark pants.
Oscar Kemp is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in social work this May. (Photo: Tom Kojcsich, Enterprise Marketing and Communications)

The positive impact a social worker had on his family as a child helped put Oscar Kemp on a path from Danville, Virginia; to Virginia Commonwealth University; and, starting this summer, to East Africa.

Kemp will earn his Bachelor of Social Work degree from the VCU School of Social Work on May 12. Earlier in the spring, he was named a recipient of a Critical Language Scholarship that will send him to Tanzania to study Swahili. Most recently, he was one of 10 VCU students or alumni to earn a Fulbright Scholarship, which he will use to teach English in Uganda starting in late summer. Both awards are through the U.S. Department of State.

“Not that many people who look like me have that opportunity,” Kemp says. “It’s not very often that you meet a young Black male student who is considering global citizenship.”

He found his niche in Richmond as a VCU Ram.

“I remember walking through the Welcome Center in Richmond and seeing Broad Street for the first time and thinking, ‘This is how I want to live my college life,’ ” Kemp says. “I didn’t want to be secluded away from other people. I wanted to be close to other communities. I felt VCU was full of opportunities.”

As a child in Danville, a social worker helped his family after they were evicted from their apartment. “A social worker was the first person we went to for help. I saw how that social worker really helped my mother, and [I] really saw a smile across my mom’s face again. That led me to social work,” Kemp says.

He credits the Association of Black Social Workers with finding students and faculty who embraced and supported him. He eventually became president of the student organization.

“They were people who really wanted to lift me up,” he says.

»  Learn more about Oscar Kemp’s story and honors:

Categories Awards and honors, Education, Students
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