Helo Oidjarv, PhD, MSW

Born and raised in Estonia, Europe, I received my undergraduate degree in Sociology at the University of Tartu in my native Tartu, Estonia. After becoming a Christian at 18 (like most of my generation in Estonia, I was raised atheist), my purpose in life changed to helping and serving others. Since I also loved traveling and learning about diverse cultures (I had lived three years of my childhood in Northern Africa), I decided to apply to a Master's in Social Work program in the U.S. and pursue a program that also had a Christian emphasis. God opened the doors for me to attend and complete an MSW degree at Andrews University, Michigan (which was a miracle story in itself). Following this, I continued my educational journey at the Ph.D. in Social Work program at the University of Illinois-Chicago and completed it in August 2009. My husband and I moved to Greenville in August of 2020; before then, I had been a social work faculty member for a total of 10 years at two Christian colleges, Walla Walla University in College Place, Washington, and Pacific Union College in Northern California. For 2017-20 I also served as the BSW Program Director, and for 2018-20, as the Pacific Union College Department of Psychology and Social Work Chair. I have taught a variety of major social work courses such as BSW and MSW Research Methods, BSW and MSW Macro Practice, a graduate social work class Advanced Clinical Evaluation (in online and in-person format), and large undergraduate courses in introductory Sociology, Human Development, and (online) Cultural Anthropology. Besides teaching at small private colleges, I had an opportunity to be the teacher for two MSW courses, Research Methods and Human Behavior and the Social Environment, at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Some of my most enjoyable teaching assignments have been the Topics in Global Social Work, an elective class I re-focused on comparing European and U.S. social policies, and the Global Social Work and Human Rights Study Tour I developed with the assistance and support of social workers in Estonia. Further, my interests include gender-based violence, and I am presently teaching, for the fourth time, an upper-division undergraduate elective course in Gender Issues (online). Another of my favorite areas to teach is Social Science Research Methods. At Walla Walla University in the State of Washington, I had the pleasure of teaching the yearlong Social Work Research Methods and Applications course sequence for nearly seven years at the graduate level and close to four years at the undergraduate level. In my seven years at WWU, I supervised and closely worked with 167 social work students on their independent research projects. I also have several years of social work practice experience. Most of it is at the macro level and comes from a variety of volunteer and paid social work positions ranging from serving at an orphanage for disabled children and developing a field practicum site for social work students in Estonia to consulting for community agencies in research, particularly in the areas of needs assessment and program evaluation. At present, I am learning about a brand new area in the field of social work, veterinary social work, and planning to get a veterinary social work certification. As our pets have made a huge difference in my and my husband's life, I hope to develop a course in animal-assisted interventions someday in the not-so-distant future.

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