Student Spotlight: Izzy Sutliff

Busy future mom earning A.A. with plans to transfer and pursue bachelor’s in social work

Isabelle “Izzy” Sutliff, 26, is earning her Associate of Arts (A.A.) at Inver Hills Community College with plans to graduate this summer and then transfer to a four-year school to earn a bachelor’s degree in social work. Izzy is expecting and her new baby is due in August, so she’ll be putting her transfer plans on hold temporarily.

“I originally was all set to do the Pre-Social Work Transfer Pathway A.S., but I just found out in January that I’m pregnant,” she said. “I am going to complete my A.A. degree and then go back in spring 2024 to continue my Pre-Social Work degree.”

Izzy added that she didn’t have to change any of her classes to earn her A.A. at Inver other than adding one elective.

“You could really say I complete the Pre-Social Work Transfer Pathway because technically I did,” she pointed out. “I just added an extra elective for the summer of 2023 so that I would meet requirements for the A.A. degree, too.”

Izzy is centering her career plans on helping children in difficult situations.

“My heart is for kids,” she said. “I love them so much. I want to work with CPS [Child Protection Services]. I truly believe having my child is going to better prepare me to work in that field.”

Social Work Month 2023¹

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 2023 is Social Work Breaks Barriers.

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 2023 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 2023 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. Jill has been impressed by Izzy’s work ethic and enthusiasm.

“I’ve had Izzy in two classes since I started last fall,” Jill said, “and she has been one of my hardest working students. Izzy is never afraid to share her thoughts and ideas—and when she speaks, you can hear the genuine passion in her words.”

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!
Learn more about Jill Grover by reading her Inver Hills News story:

New Faculty Spotlight: Jill Grover

Jill Grover, MSW, LISW

More about Izzy…

Izzy Sutliff

Izzy’s previous work experience is related to her future career path. She served for more than two years first as a recovery coach and then as a medication coordinator for Adult & Teen Challenge Minnesota.

Izzy has an exceedingly busy schedule. She works full-time while attending Inver Hills as a front desk receptionist at Gassen Property Management in Eden Prairie. Her duties include client support via phone calls and in-person visits.

“I also work a part-time job at Life Time,” Izzy said. “I do kids’ b-day parties on the weekends.”

Izzy was born in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), India, a storied megacity with almost 4.5 million residents. She was 9 months old when she was adopted and considers Cottage Grove, Minnesota, her hometown.

Izzy would love to visit India one day. She is intrigued by the customs and culture of India, including the intricate apparel. She is amazed that the country’s population of nearly 1.4 billion people speaks more than 19,500 languages and dialects as mother tongues.

When she was a teenager, Izzy faced drug-use challenges that short-circuited her education.

“I ended up dropping out of PSEO and then high school due to my substance-abuse issues,” she said. “I eventually earned my high school diploma through the city of Minneapolis as a super senior in a treatment program.”

Izzy and her husband, Jeremy, were married in October 2021. Jeremy works as as a youth peer recovery support specialist. They haven’t named their new baby yet. Izzy is 15 weeks along, and they’ll find out if the baby is a girl or boy at 20 weeks.

The family has two kitties, Reesie and Turbo. “They are half-siblings and are my babies,” Izzy mentioned.

In her free time, Izzy enjoys swimming, collecting rocks, hiking, and long car rides.

“I hate driving, but my husband likes it—and I like riding,” Izzy said.

Izzy, Jeremy, Reesie, and Turbo (and soon their new baby) reside in Richfield, Minnesota.

Izzy family and life gallery

One word that best describes your experience at Inver Hills:


Izzy Sutliff Q & A

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

I pursued this degree as I wanted to focus primarily on social work. I like how there are many aspects to social work and thought that this would be the easiest way to transition to a four-year college.

I did not have to think about what courses would work best as my advisor was so helpful in figuring that out. I switched to an A.A., but only so that I could use that degree on my resume in the interim until I get my social work degree.

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

Right now, I am really enjoying the live, in-class speakers that my professor has brought in. It is so engaging to talk with people in the social work field who also have their own personal stories for why they got involved in this line of work.

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

I am smart, flexible, and compassionate. I believe my intelligence gives me the ability to learn new tasks quickly. I believe that I am open to change and am prepared for unexpected things. My history of drug addiction makes me compassionate to those who struggle with any sort of addiction. I believe everyone is addicted to something, but balance is possible.

Three words that describe you as a college student:

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

Child Protection Services—my dad was a children’s pastor, and I have always had a passion for kids. Seeing so many of my friends/peers lose their kids to the system has made me passionate about wanting to help as much as I can.

There is no perfect solution for a lot of CPS cases, but I hope my knowledge of recovery and the passion I have for kids will help me bring balance and be successful in that particular field.

I am also adopted and have struggled with mental health as a result of my adoption. I think that also is why I want to work with kids. The decisions made in their lives are going to affect them throughout their lifetimes, and I know that firsthand.

What do you like best about attending Inver Hills?

I like that my professors and advisor have been so ready to help me. I can tell that they genuinely want me to succeed. My professors understand their class might not be the reason I’m going to school and work around my busy schedule and life to accommodate me. I have received more help than I asked for every time I asked—and I asked quite a few times.

What person has influenced your life the most and why?

My mom, Kim—I would say this because I see a lot of her in my personality and mannerisms. She taught me how to love consistently and faithfully. Sometimes tough love is necessary, but I’m so happy now she put boundaries up to protect herself while I was in my addiction.

She taught me how to work hard and not complain. She taught me to trust God for all my needs and put my hope in something higher, and that with faith all things are possible.

Where do you hope to find yourself in 20 years?

I want to be working in the legislature to promote better options for CPS-affected families. I want to have been a positive change. I know that even if I do not see the change in my lifetime, my actions will have ripple effects.

Izzy Sutliff 12 Answers

  1. Favorite sport or physical activity: Swimming
  2. Place you would most like to visit: India (have not been back, but I’m adopted from there)
  3. Most exciting thing you’ve ever done:Marrying my husband—we went to Florida and he proposed ?; having this baby will be next—there’s a fine line between exciting and terrifying ? 
  4. Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1) Donate to charity 2) Invest 3) Buy a house and make my future children’s college fund
  5. Best book or movie you’ve read or seen lately: Avatar: The Way of Water
  6. Time period (past or future) you would explore if you could time travel: I would go 100 years into the future just because there’s nowhere I would want to travel back to.
  7. One thing you most want to accomplish in your life: I want to travel to every continent
  8. Your national bird if you were your own country: Snowy owl
  9. Dream occupation: Being an actress— this is a dream, emphasis on dream, or possibly a lawyer; in high school I loved theatre and mock trials
  10. Person you would most like to meet: My birth mother
  11. Skill you would most like to learn and master: Counting cards—just for fun, of course; I watched the movie, 21, when I was about 12 years old and have wanted to count cards ever since
  12. Most important issue or problem facing humankind: Fentanyl crisis/mental health crisis
Learn more about the Pre-Social Work program at Inver Hills by contacting:

Inver Hills Community College
Virtual Visit

¹ SOURCE: NASW Social Work Month

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 $23.81/hour.


Median: $29.88/hour
High: $38.18/hour

Seven-county Twin Cities metro

Median: $30.03/hour
High: $38.62/hour


In Minnesota, there are 3,110 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 (February 27, 2023)

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