Pre-Social Work Transfer Pathway Student Spotlight: Jean Kabambe

Jean Kabambe

Caregiver and nursing assistant looking forward to earning her BSW, MSW, and PhD

Social Work Month in March is a time to celebrate the great profession of social work. LEARN MORE…

Jean Kabambe is completing a Pre-Social Work Transfer Pathway A.S. at Inver Hills Community College with plans to graduate in December 2024. Jean has already earned her Associate of Arts (A.A.) at Inver Hills, graduating in 2023. She has extensive experience in the healthcare field, having served as a caregiver and nursing assistant, roles that have given her a solid foundation for a career in social work.

Jean works two jobs while attending Inver Hills. She is a caregiver at Lifespark in Edina, Minnesota, and a nursing assistant at Community Living Options in Zimmerman, Minnesota.

“My time as a nursing assistant has taught me so much,” Jean said, “and that work prepared me for the world at large. Taking care of people is truly a calling—and I embrace it with humility. I have learned patience, kindness, and commitment. I have learned how to relate with people of all ages, backgrounds, and cultures.”

After graduating from Inver Hills with her A.S. degree, Jean will be transferring to Metropolitan State University to pursue a Bachelor of Social Work (B.S.W.) Her long-term goal is to earn a Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) and then her Ph.D. in Social Work.

“My career plans are centered on owning my own social work practice in my community,” she said. “My focus will be mental health and self-care.”

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) holds an annual event in March called Social Work Month.

Social Work Month in March is a time to celebrate the great profession of social work. The theme for Social Work Month 2024 is Empowering Social Workers! Inspiring Action, Leading Change.

During Social Work Month, take time to learn more about the many positive contributions of the profession. Use the items in our Social Media Toolkit for Social Work Month 2024 to celebrate all the social workers you know.

NASW is hoping you will take this month’s theme to heart and help bring awareness to the awesome, life-changing work social workers do by sharing your stories across NASW social media:


Learn more about how you can celebrate Social Work Month 2024 by emailing

About NASW

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is the largest membership organization of professional social workers in the world. NASW works to enhance the professional growth and development of its members to create and maintain professional standards for social workers, and to advance sound social policies.

Faculty perspective: Jill Grover, MSW, LISW

Jill Grover serves as faculty in the Pre-Social Work program. She has been inspired by Jean’s ability to add depth and new perspectives to classroom discussions.

“Jean is such a deep thinker and someone who really takes in everything she learns and reads about and considers how it has impacted her own life as well as how it will impact her practice as a future social worker someday,” Jill said. “There have been many moments in classes with Jean where she has made striking reflections or shared a perspective that has caused me to pause and reflect on myself as well, which is something I appreciate and value immensely.

“Learning from my own students, like Jean, is something I will never take for granted because it allows continued growth for me as an instructor, which then creates a better learning experience for our students as well—it’s full circle!”

Jill reported that trained social workers are in high demand. “With the rise and growing awareness of mental health and social justice issues, our community needs more skilled and compassionate helping professionals now more than ever.  Our Pre-Social Work Transfer Pathway curriculum boasts small class sizes and offers a variety of electives for a personalized learning experience tailored to the career goals of our students.”

Jill added that the program’s required internship experience also provides a way for students to put their learning to practice before graduating and entering the field.

“Social work is an expansive and diverse industry both in terms of the types of settings employing social workers as well as the kinds of client populations served,” she said, noting that social workers can be employed at numerous institutions and entities:

  • Hospitals/clinics
  • County/state agencies
  • Schools
  • Nonprofit social service agencies
  • Home healthcare agencies
  • Libraries
  • Police departments
  • Corrections agencies
  • Animal welfare organizations
  • Legal advocacy organizations
  • Immigrant/refugee resettlement organizations
  • Private practice therapy
  • Mental health and chemical dependency treatment facilities
  • And so many more!

More about Jean…

Jean Kabambe

Jean was born in New Delhi, India, where her father worked as a high commissioner. Her family lived in India for about five years before moving to Lusaka, the capital and largest city in Zambia, a republic in South Central Africa with a population topping 20 million people. Jean’s parents are from Zambia, and her native languages are Tonga and Lozi.

“I miss the weather in Zambia,” Jean said, “and the warmth of the Zambian people. My favorite place in Zambia is Livingstone.”

Jean has a daughter named Alexis Frances. She has five brothers and three sisters and more than 20 nieces and nephews. Some of her family members are in the U.S. and some are back in Zambia.

In her free time, Jean loves to sing and write music. She once sang in the Minnesota-based, Grammy Award-winning group, Sounds of Blackness. She loves spending time with her daughter and family. She also enjoys reading along with serving others.

Jean resides in Cottage Grove, Minnesota.

Jean Kabambe family and life gallery

Jean Kabambe Q & A

Jean Kabambe
What inspired you to pursue a Transfer Pathway A.S. in Pre-Social Work?

My love for service. I have always enjoyed talking to people and socializing. I see myself as a problem-solver. When I see something wrong, I have a great desire to fix it. I love to serve in my community, my church, and at work. Service has always brought me a sense of fulfillment.

What do you find most engaging about your Pre-Social Work coursework?

I have enjoyed listening to other people’s perspectives and experiences. Being from diverse backgrounds and different walks of life is really the beauty of this field. I love to learn—and I believe that to evolve, you must be a student of life.

What traits and abilities do you have that can help make you a successful social worker?

My ability to relate well with others, my patience, my compassion, and being a team player.

Three words that describe you as a college student:

What area of social work interests you the most and why?

I would like to work as a clinical social worker and case manager. I would like to focus on the aspect of assessment, treatment, and prevention of mental illness. I would also like to be involved in placement.

What advice would you give someone thinking about earning a college degree with the goal to change their career trajectory?

I would advise that individual to go to the counseling and advising department at their institution and sit down with someone who can help guide them.

What do you like best about attending Inver Hills?

I love the size of the school. I don’t really like to be in big groups. So attending Inver Hills is very comfortable. I also like the class sizes.

What person has influenced your life the most and why?

My parents. Both my mom and dad were very hardworking, driven, educated, and committed to family life.

If you could make one thing happen on Earth right now, what would it be?

I would eliminate racism.

One word that best describes your experience at Inver Hills:


Jean Kabambe 12 Answers

  1. Favorite sport or physical activity: I love track and field, and I also love soccer
  2. Place you would most like to visit: Jamaica
  3. Most exciting thing you’ve ever done: Horseback riding
  4. Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1) Open a women’s shelter 2) Dig some wells in my country 3) Go on a trip around the world with my mom and daughter
  5. Best book or movie you’ve read or seen lately: The Bible—it’s my favorite book
  6. Time period (past or future) you would explore if you could time travel: 1960s in my country, Zambia
  7. One thing you most want to accomplish in your life: Enjoy it
  8. Your national bird if you were your own country: African fish eagle, which are usually spotted perched high upon branches above rivers and swamps
  9. Dream occupation: Social worker
  10. Person you would most like to meet: Jesus
  11. Skill you would most like to learn and master: To build a house—design from the ground up
  12. Most important issue or problem facing humankind: Inequality
Learn more about the Pre-Social Work program at Inver Hills by contacting:

Inver Hills Community College
Virtual Visit

More about the Pre-Social Work program

Social work belongs to the field of human services that focuses on meeting human needs by applying methods, practices, and technologies from a vast, interdisciplinary knowledge base. Problem prevention and remediation as well as improving quality of life are the primary objectives of human services professionals.

Why Study Pre-Social Work at Inver Hills?

Help where you’re most needed.
Use your knowledge, values, understanding, competence, and empathy to directly improve the wellbeing of individuals and communities by helping meet their basic human needs.

You believe everyone matters.
People dealing with difficult circumstances struggle to find fulfillment in life. As a social worker, you will fight on their side, using your experience and expertise to make a lasting difference in their world.

Adapting to change is your strong suit.
Social work never stops evolving. New emphasis has moved to prevention and early intervention. If you feel primed to apply your talent and drive to help solve serious social challenges in innovative ways, social work might be your calling.

Be the voice for the voiceless.
People at risk need real assistance and understanding the most. Trouble is they are often the last to get the support they need. As a social worker, you will have the matchless capacity to step up on their behalf and persuade society to stop, pay attention, learn compassion, and race to the rescue.

Are you up for the biggest challenges of your life?
No two cases are exactly alike. That’s one of the first things you’ll learn as a social worker. Solving shifting problems with grit and creativity will become your second nature. Helping change someone’s life for the better can be uncommonly rewarding, but also emotionally demanding. Your intelligence and fortitude will be tested—then again, that’s a big reason you chose this profession.

Join a fast-growing, high-demand workforce.
CAREERwise includes four social work-related occupations on a list of 50 careers expected to grow at a faster rate than other careers from 2016 to 2026: Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers (18.1 percent), Health Care Social Workers (14.0 percent), Social and Community Service Managers (12.3 percent), and Social and Human Service Assistants (12.0 percent).

Pre-Social Work Career Paths

Make a genuine difference in our world.
Due to the nature of the work, which involves direct contact with vulnerable individuals, job applicants are carefully screened for professional and personal qualifications. Employers seek applicants with relevant academic credentials, work experience, and a history of volunteerism.

Career Opportunities

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for social workers approached $52,000 in May 2020. Overall employment of social workers in the U.S. is projected to grow 12 percent from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations.

More than 78,000 openings for social workers are projected each year on average over the course of the decade.


Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers

Assess and treat people who struggle with addiction to substances such as alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.

Mental health and substance abuse social work is a very high-wage career that pays well above the statewide median wage of $24.25/hour.


Median: $32.31/hour
High: $40.58/hour

Seven-county Twin Cities metro

Median: $33.17/hour
High: $40.68/hour


In Minnesota, there are 2,690 workers employed in this small career. This career is currently in very high demand and seeing high growth (growth rate 14.9 percent in U.S.) compared to other careers.

There will be a need for about 2,707 new Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers to meet market demand between 2020–2030. This includes the demand due to replacement (workers leaving the occupation or retiring) as well as growth.

— Minnesota State CAREERwise Education (March 19, 2024)

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