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Faculty Spotlight: Sarah Kye Price

“I spend far more hours in the community than at my desk, and I’ve learned that I cannot add any more hours into a 24-hour day,” said Sarah Kye Price, professor of social work. “So, for me, the answer is to integrate my engagement with the community into my teaching, scholarship and service.”

Before earning her Ph.D. and joining the faculty at VCU, Price worked in the field of social work, specifically in gerontology (specializing in work with those with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia) as well as Hospice, end-of-life care and bereavement counseling. 

“My work in the field of grief and bereavement became specialized around issues of perinatal loss and infant death when I realized how many of the older adult women with whom I worked experienced grief complicated by early child-bearing losses,” she said. “I decided to move into practice settings that addressed reproductive and perinatal loss as a way to facilitate healing and growth earlier in the lifespan.”

Today, Price’s research and scholarly publications have focused on promoting women’s mental health during and around pregnancy, with a particular emphasis on the role of reproductive loss and its impact across the lifespan. She also writes about social work’s commitment to authentic community engagement, and the profession’s contributory roles in advancing community-engaged research (CEnR) and transdisciplinary research.

Teaching within VCU’s three social work degree programs (BSW, MSW and Ph.D), Price integrates community partnerships and community-relevant examples into her classes.

“When I bring in a real case example, or have my students apply a theory to a dilemma one of my community partners is facing, it becomes much messier than a case study from a textbook, but it also exposes them to the fact that real world dilemmas are messy, and don’t always have a perfect solution,” Price said. “By remaining closely engaged with the community, we are learning and struggling together, creatively discovering new approaches and possible solutions in partnership with local social work agencies, service providers and clients. We are better teachers and scholars when we are attached deeply to the communities where we live and work.”

As part of the DCE’s 10th anniversary, the division is profiling VCU faculty members who are committed to community engagement. Learn more at community.vcu.edu/10years.