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Passion and Perseverance

Dr. Nathaniel Currie

Assistant Professor, Department of Social Work, Clark Atlanta University

Age: 40

Education: B.S., social work, Plymouth State University; Master of Social Work (MSW), Simmons University; and Doctor of Social Work (DSW), University of Pennsylvania

Career mentors:
Gary Bailey, Simmons University; Anthony Hill, Winthrop University; and Shonda Lawrence, Clark Atlanta University

Words of wisdom/advice for new faculty members:
“Do you, at this level, through this lens. Whether it’s a dissertation, a program, a grant, whatever it is. I think too many times we lose our voice, and that’s the opposite of what needs to occur. And to recognize the level at which we’re performing is really helpful. And to adapt to whatever the scenario is. So to do you at this level through this lens I think is wildly helpful for people to do what they do and not to lose their voice.”

Dr. Nathaniel Currie said the drive to help other people has been with him since childhood. Dr. Nathaniel CurrieDr. Nathaniel Currie

Currie spent most of his early youth in foster care and was adopted by a child rights activist. He said he viewed the field as one essentially about humanity. Now, as a licensed clinical social worker and an assistant professor in the Whitney M. Young Jr. School of Social Work at Clark Atlanta University (CAU), he has continued to pursue that passion.

“I can remember being in high school and not knowing the first thing about how to really help myself,” Currie said. “But I knew I wanted to help other people. ... Even before I knew what to do for me, I knew I wanted to help other people.”

When he is not teaching, Currie is at National AIDS Education and Services for Minorities (NAESM), working with queer minorities as a behavioral health clinician.

“We work with queer-identified Black and brown men, people of male experience, mostly but not limited to, in both HIV prevention, education, testing, and care linkage. We have behavioral health, [a] housing program, ... community building,” Currie said.

Outside of CAU, Currie is an adjunct faculty member in the School of Social Work at Simmons University. He has previously been adjunct faculty in the Department of Social Work at Winthrop University, and adjunct faculty in social work at California State University, Dominguez Hills.

Currie said his work is not limited to practicing social work but also involves bettering it, citing colonial ideals, centering whiteness, and capitalism as present issues in the field. In response, he attempts to approach the work through “lenses” of empowerment, critical race studies, and an Afro-centric perspective, he said.

“Social work is a field in the Americas that’s largely dominated by cis, het, white women,” Currie said. “Often times, knowingly or unknowingly, there is a perpetuation of colonialist values and ideologies and I always felt like that really does need to be disrupted, particularly since social work practice prides itself on being one of the fields of practice that’s most diverse.”

Dr. Jenny L. Jones, dean and professor in CAU’s Whitney M. Young Jr. School of Social Work, nominated Currie to become a Diverse Emerging Scholar. Jones said she believes Curry is committed to the profession of social work and “believes that people should have an opportunity to be who they are and not be judged by who they are.”

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