Farewell: Sarah K. Price, Ph.D.
Sarah Kye Price, Ph.D., M.S.W., M.S., M.Div., participated in one final Commencement celebration at VCU after 17 years watching students walk across the stage and into the world to make a real, tangible difference in the lives of clients and communities.
VCU awarded Dr. Price the honorary designation of Distinguished Career Professor in May 2023.
“I fell into social work a little accidentally,” Dr. Price recalls. “I started my undergraduate career with a health focus and was working my way through school as a nurses’ aide, and I was terrible at it. I loved talking with people ,and that made me very slow with my work tasks. One day, my supervisor was reprimanding me and said rather bluntly, ‘if you want to talk to people so [expletive!] much, maybe you should be a social worker.’ I took an introduction to social work class the next semester. The rest is history! She went on to earn her B.S.W. at SUNY College at Buffalo and her M.S.W. at Syracuse University.
Dr. Price’s social work career has always been interdisciplinary. Her direct practice work has included health care settings in geriatrics, women’s health, sub-acute rehabilitation and hospice care. She became a grief therapist in community practice specializing in reproductive health care and bereavement during and around the time of pregnancy. That work inspired her to pursue her Ph.D. (Washington University in St. Louis, 2005) in order to improve health and mental health for pregnant and parenting people. “My research, just like my practice, involves teams of nurses, physicians, public health professionals, community health workers, policy-makers and educators because we all have roles in creating and advocating for more equitable health and mental health care.”
At VCU, Dr. Price attained the faculty rank of professor and has served as the Ph.D. Program director (2013-2014) and the associate dean for faculty development (2019-2022). Her research and scholarship have been funded by the NIH KL2 Scholars Program in Clinical and Translational Science, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) as well as several internal and community-foundation funding agencies. She has taught in-person, online and as a field instructor and liaison across programs and has served as the dual-degree advisor for the M.S.W.-M.P.H. program. She developed an online elective in Social Work Practice in Health Care, which will continue to be offered in the M.S.W. Program.
Dr. Price has been deeply engaged with her community of faith through ministry in racial justice and healing, food and housing equity, and pastoral care and support. In 2014, she began seminary in a hybrid model with Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP) in Berkeley, California. After completing her M.Div. in 2018, she was ordained as an Episcopal priest. The Rev. Dr. Price has served locally with both Grace and Holy Trinity and St. Mark’s, Richmond. Last year, she spent the spring and summer as visiting professor of women in ministry at CDSP, developing and teaching a course in social work and spiritual care. Most recently, she has been filling an interim role with the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia supporting others called to ordained ministry.
What will you miss? “I will miss my amazing colleagues and students. I am truly grateful for all the people who have crossed my path here at VCU.”
What are you most proud of? “Deep commitment to my social work values, and living that out through my teaching, mentoring and community-engaged research partnerships. Now I hope to be an excellent community partner with the School of Social Work!”
What’s your advice for graduates? “Keep your clients as the center of your daily focus; don’t give up on changing the system even if it’s bigger than you are and will take longer than your career to change. Work to change it, anyhow. And always follow your heart!”
What comes next for you? “I get to bring my social work values and my professorial experience full time into my life as an Episcopal priest! I’m excited to see how that emerges.”